Warm and Wet

By Russell Russ

September weather in Norfolk this year was mostly cloudy and humid for much of the month. Temperatures and rainfall were both well above normal. September is prime Hurricane season. North and South Carolina were hit with devastating rainfall totals when Hurricane Florence made landfall September 14. Remnants of Florence did produce 2.61 inches of rain here September 17-18, a decent amount of rain, but no widespread damage or flooding here, as was the case in the Carolinas. Our prolonged summer persevered through the month. It was not until the latter weeks of the month, when the foliage finally began to turn, did we realize that autumn in fact was on the way.

September’s high temperature of 88 degrees was observed on September 6 and the low of 41 degrees was observed on September 30. The average mean temperature was 62.4 degrees, 3.5 degrees above normal. During the first week of the month there were several days with record setting or near record setting high temperatures. The September 5 high of 85 tied the 1983 record and the September 6 high of 88 just beat the 1943 record of 87.

This September was tied with 2010 as the seventh warmest September over the last 87 years. The warmest September was in 2015 with 64.7 degrees and the coolest was in 1963 with 53.6 degrees. For the year, there have been six months above normal for monthly temperatures and September made it five in a row. We will have to see how the last quarter of the year plays out, but 2018 could be in the running for a high ranking among warmest years on record for Norfolk.

The month’s rainfall total was 8.77 inches, 4.12 inches above normal. It was Norfolk’s fourth month in a row with above normal rainfall. In fact, six of the nine months this year have been above normal for precipitation. It was the ninth wettest September over the last 87 years. The wettest September was in 1938 with 13.40 inches (thanks to the Hurricane of ’38). The driest was in 2014 with just 1.16 inches.

Through September this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 49.08 inches. This is 9.95 inches above normal. Through September, we are only 3.44 inches away from Norfolk’s average amount for the entire year. By comparison, at this point last year we were 5.53 inches below normal and two years ago we were 11.04 inches below normal. No talk of precipitation deficits around here this year, that is for sure.

What will October’s weather be like? By two-thirds of the way through the month as Norfolk Now was going to print, it was a tale of two weather months. Through October 11 it was more warmth and more rain – just like it has been all summer and early fall. But, the weather turned here after that and cooler temperatures began to take over. Changing leaf colors and several days with frost after mid-month shocked everyone with the realization that summer is finally over. Historically, frost is common in September around Norfolk, but for the last few years it has not shown locally (for the most part) until October. As is typical, October was our transition month. In recent years the colder weather seems to have been somewhat delayed, but there is no holding back Mother Nature. Winter is on the way.