Fair Weather - The Recap

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Well, the N.C. State Fair wrapped up what appears to be a very successful 2006 run with weather that was less than ideal on Sunday, but the light rain and drizzle did at least taper off to just a misty fog by around 2-3 pm, as the persistent clouds and a stable airmass locked in by the morning rain held the high temperature to about 58 degrees. The Sunday attendance figures were not available as yet when I started writing this, but the fantastic weather on Saturday (sunshine and 64) together with a lack of competing/traffic-snarling events in the immediate area helped bring about the all-time attendance record for a single day, with 145,461 visitors smashing the second place record of 139,000 from 1984.

Overall, the fair had a pretty good run of weather this year, which is not unusual as October is the month with the lowest probability of measurable rainfall for any given day in our area, with a long-term average of 7 days during the month with .01" or more of rain. The next lowest number is 8 days for both September and November, but keep in mind that the difference is a little larger than it would seem, since October has an extra day in it compared to the adjacent months. That number of days works out to about 2 and a quarter days with rain for a ten day period, and that was almost exactly the case over the span of the fair this year, as measurable rain occurred on Tuesday the 17th, the early morning hours of Wednesday the 18th, and during the mid-morning to early afternoon hours of Sunday the 22nd. Rainfall amounts were quite substantial on Tuesday (the day I was there in the WRAL tent, of course) with exactly 1 inch recorded at the RDU airport, and 1.19 inches recorded at the Reedy Creek ECONET weather station not far from the fairgrounds. That much rain definitely put a damper on attendance, with Tuesday's total of 30,840 the lowest number for any day going back at least as far as 1984. Rain on Sunday the 22nd was less substantial, with Reedy Creek notching .15" and RDU very similar with 16 hundredths of an inch.

Otherwise, the weather was very favorable, with deep blue skies and a few fair weather clouds on many days, again characteristic of October. Days that featured maximum temperatures near ten degrees from "normal" were Wednesday the 18th with a high of 80 (the following two days featured warm readings of 78 and 77, too) and, on the cold side, 61 on Friday the 13th (versus a normal of 73) and 58 on the final Sunday compared to a normal of 70.

There were also a couple of breezy days that would make you hang on to your hat atop the Ferris Wheel, but only one stood out as "windy," and that was Friday the 20th, with top sustained wind speeds reaching as high as 20 mph at RDU and Reedy Creek, while RDU recorded a peak gust to 29 mph.

If you didn't make it to the fair this year (or even if you did), has a number of features you can still check out for a flavor of the event, including a State Fair Blog by Tara Calishain, a gallery of visitor photos, and a nice audio slideshow.

As for the rest of this week, it appears we'll see lots of sun through Wednesday, with afternoon temperatures about 10-15 degrees below normal and perhaps some frost Wednesday morning, then a shot at some rain later Thursday into early Friday morning.