Elizabeth Gardner: When will fall finally arrive?

When will it finally cool down around here?

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Elizabeth Gardner
, WRAL meteorologist

When will it finally cool down around here?

Lots of people are talking about that after a very warm end to summer. Most of us here in North Carolina can’t wait for our gorgeous fall weather.

Should we expect to see it by now? With climate change continuing to warm our planet, the answer to that is changing. Fall temperatures across much of the country are warmer now than they were 50 years ago.

Fall days above normal

Between 1970 and 2019, we’ve seen a rise in our number of days with above normal temperatures. Nine more days are above normal at RDU, where we keep the official records in the Triangle. Here’s a look at our normal highs during the fall.

Meteorological fall

Those numbers look pretty good! But as our days above normal increase, we see fewer of those beautiful fall days.

It’s interesting to look at the records at RDU. The latest day above 100 degrees was Oct. 3, 2019, but the latest 90 degree + day is just a week later on Oct. 10.

The records give us an idea of when the heat will end. For example, it has never been hotter than 90 degrees past Oct. 10. It’s nice to know that 90 degree days are unlikely after that date.

Autumn heat

Our average fall temperatures are on the rise but just slightly. There is a two degree increase over the last 50 years.

Average fall temperature

Warmer temperatures are not just uncomfortable, they can affect our health.

Warmer weather causes the mosquito season to last longer, stretching out the days we can see mosquito-borne illnesses. Instances of heat exhaustion and stroke increase along with days of higher pollen. We need to run the air conditioner longer, which costs us all more money.

Many of us, including myself, just want to have some cooler, less humid weather to get outside and enjoy. What can we do to combat climate change? Cut down on our carbon emissions. Try to take fewer trips in your car. Switch to an electric car if possible. Reduce the amount of meat in your diet. Put solar panels on your house. Whatever you can do, big or small, helps.


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