Elizabeth Gardner: Fall is around the corner, but above-average temperatures will stick around

It's early August and we've already seen more days with highs of 90 degrees or hotter than we usually see all year.

Posted Updated
Bryan Mims shares the fall splendor on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Elizabeth Gardner
, WRAL meteorologist

It’s early August and we’ve already seen more days with highs of 90 degrees or hotter than we usually see all year.

We still have the rest of August, September and possibly early October to see more days in the 90s. The record is 91 days, set in 2010. Unfortunately, there's still a chance we could get close to it.

Obviously it’s been a hot summer already. We are on track to see the third hottest summer on record at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Our summer's average temperature so far is 80.7 degrees, which is 2.1 degrees above normal. The average isn't just the high temperature, it takes into account the whole day. Rainfall is about an inch above normal.

Without a doubt, some of us are dreaming of fall, but how quickly will it cool off?

Fall countdown

The fall equinox is Sept. 22 this year, but meteorologically we consider fall to be Sept. 1 through Nov. 30. The Climate Prediction Center issues trend forecasts for three months in the future.

Early fall, including August, September and October, shows a chance of above-normal temperatures and rainfall. That may not sound great if you are hoping for cooler weather, but remember the average high for the first calendar day of fall is 81 degrees. Above-normal could be just 83 degrees!

Seasonal temperature outlook

Fall foliage is another thing many of us look forward to. A wet summer keeps trees from becoming stressed and means they will put on a better show in the fall. We have seen more rain than normal this summer, so we are in good shape there, but warm temperatures aren’t great for color.

Cold temperatures trigger a chemical reaction in the leaves that produce the vibrant colors. If it’s too warm colors may be delayed. If they are delayed too long, they are more likely to be muted or just turn brown and fall from the trees.

Predicted peak fall colors

Early fall is peak hurricane season

Early fall brings the peak of hurricane season.

Tropical forecasters have been expecting an above-normal season. That’s because we are in a La Niña cycle.
Hurricane season activity

La Niña refers to cooler than normal water temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, but it usually translates to an active tropical season in the Atlantic. Another contributing factor is the sea surface temperature. The temperature of the ocean surface has been higher than normal this season.

Tropical systems feed off that warm water and sometimes become stronger and more frequent than normal.

So look forward to the fall! Eventually temperatures will cool off, the tropics will become quiet and hopefully we can enjoy some pretty fall leaves.


Copyright 2023 by Capitol Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.