By Russell Russ
Devastatingly powerful hurricanes and the resulting catastrophic damage affected much of the Caribbean and Florida for a good part of September. The Gulf Coast had its turn in August. Out west there were devastating wildfires. The pictures and stories showed the terrible side of Mother Nature. Here in Norfolk the weather was, for the most part, absolutely beautiful. The weather was so bad in other parts of the country and so nice here that there was almost a feeling of guilty pleasure. Is there such a thing as weather guilt? We should enjoy our good weather while we have it, though, because Norfolk has been on the bad side of Mother Nature and it will be again.
September’s low temperature of 38 degrees was observed on September 2 and the high of 85 degrees was observed on September 25. Strangely, it got warmer as the month progressed, which is not supposed to happen in September. The average mean temperature was 62.1 degrees, 3.2 degrees above normal. There were several days this month with near-record daily high temperatures and three days did set new records. The new records were 85 degrees on September 25 (was 83 in 1970), 83 on September 26 (was 80 in 1970) and 82 on September 27 (was 78 in 2011).
It was the ninth warmest September in the last 86 years. The warmest September was in 2015 with 64.7 degrees and the coolest was in 1963 with 53.6 degrees. In fact, five of the top ten warmest Septembers have occurred over the last ten years. There are twelve years ranked in the top ten warmest Septembers (there were two ties), ten of these twelve years have occurred over the last twenty years.
The month’s rainfall total was 3.48 inches, 1.17 inches below normal. We have been flirting with a slowly growing rainfall deficit all year, but we have received just enough rain to keep things mostly green. In September the deficit grew a little more and the affects became more noticeable. Stream and pond levels dropped and the plants and lawns showed signs of lack of rainfall, especially as the month progressed.
It is not uncommon for Norfolk to receive heavy rainfall from a September hurricane or bigger storm event, but this year it was very quiet. Norfolk’s wettest September was in 1938 with 13.40 inches (thanks to the Hurricane of ’38) and the driest was in 2014 with just 1.16 inches. Through September this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 33.60 inches. This is 5.53 inches below normal. Last year at this point we were 11.04 inches below normal.
What will October’s weather be like? By two-thirds of the way through the month, the beautiful weather continued. The monthly average temperature was nearly seven degrees above average and the rainfall total was well below normal with just 1.48 inches of rain. There were five days with frost and the frost on October 17 was widespread and killing. Even with some scattered frost and several days with cooler temperatures the incredible extended warmth continues to be the top weather story in Norfolk.