Warm and Wet – Again
By Russell Russ
September was yet another non-typical weather month for Norfolk. It did not feel that warm or wet all month, but the final monthly totals told a different story. In just a period of about three days, remnants of a Gulf Coast landing hurricane and then three weeks later a strong cold front combined to produce a vast majority of the month’s rainfall. Without these two relatively short duration rain making events, September would have come in as one of Norfolk’s driest Septembers on record. It was a poor foliage season for the area’s sugar maples, a casualty of our wet summer and fall, but there was fall coloring and it began to be quite noticeable by the middle of the month. By the end of the month, local swamps were all showing off their beautiful classic red glory. It is debatable, but some say the foliage change this fall was a little later than usual.
September’s high temperature of 81 degrees was observed on September 15 and the low of 43 degrees was observed on September 29. The month’s average mean temperature was 61.5 degrees, 2.5 degrees above normal. This month was tied with 1946 and 1971 as Norfolk’s 11th warmest September. Norfolk’s warmest September was in 2015 with a mean temperature of 64.7 degrees. The coolest was in 1963 with 53.6 degrees. There were no daily temperature records set this month and there was no frost anywhere to be found in Connecticut. Last year the first frost came to some Norfolk locations by September 15, with the first widespread frost occurring on September 21. It is fairly normal for some parts of Norfolk to see a few frosts in September. This September was just too warm for that. It did extend the growing season though.
The month’s rainfall total was 8.80 inches, 4.13 inches above normal. Nearly 90% of September’s monthly rainfall came from two relatively short duration rain events. That seems wild, but it actually is not all that uncommon. This September came in as Norfolk’s 9th wettest September. Norfolk’s wettest September was in 1938 with 13.40 inches and the driest was in 2014 with just 1.16 inches.
Through September this year, the total yearly precipitation amount was 48.58 inches. This was 9.56 inches above normal through the third quarter of 2021. A very interesting fact is that after September of 2020 Norfolk’s precipitation total was just 29.18 inches. That was 9.96 inches below normal and 19.40 inches less than this year’s running total. Talk about a complete switch from one year to another. The year of 2020 ended up being Norfolk’s 18th driest year on record. With still three months to go in 2021, if our above average monthly precipitation continues to occur, Norfolk could be flirting with a Top Ten wet year.
In a preview of October’s weather, through October 21, it was much warmer than normal. It is very likely that this October will rank very high for warm Octobers. There were a few reports of very light frost in some lower elevation valley locations on October 7 and 19, but still no widespread frost and just a few days with that typical October chill in the air. Rainfall was about normal with most of the month’s current total of 2.71 inches coming during a rain event on October 3-5. Norfolk’s foliage season “number one” (maple and ash) was about over by October 21, with foliage season “number two” (oak and beech) yet to come. The peak day for foliage this year was hard to pinpoint. The forecast is for weather patterns to change during the final week of the month. Winter is (slowly) approaching.