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    Over the past 3+ weeks not only has it been abnormally hot but it has also been unusually dry with very few of the usual scattered pop up thunderstorms. August only had about 9 days with rain and none of it was widespread and most of it was not too heavy.  My home rain gauge picked up over one-inch last Saturday the 14th and there were a few stray thundershowers Monday and Tuesday in the area but much of the region has been bone dry so far this month. The MAP ABOVE shows the percent of normal precipitation the last 90 days revealing only a few pockets of normal rain shaded green.  The official rainfall deficit for Hartsfield airport is over 2 inches for the month and about 5 inches since January 1st.  The abnormal heat with the long streaks of 90s to 100 and only modest humidity has meant extra evaporation from plants and soils.  We’ve been mostly free of rain even when it was humid, and on top of that we’ve been mostly rain free even when it was cooler.  That pattern looks to continue the next 5-15 days unless we get some tropical system to come along our way.  Autumn officially arrives on Monday with the Fall equinox, but that’s when we start our next extended heat wave as highs in the 90s return! HOW WARM HAS IT BEEN? 79 days with a high of 90 or above this year compared to the average of just 37. The record is 90 set in 2002.  So far September is IN FIRST PLACE for the warmest on record in Atlanta! September is in FIRST PLACE for most highs of 95 or above. We are tied for 5th place for SUMMER (June-August) days of 95 or higher.  The past 6 months are the 2nd warmest on record in Atlanta! And year to date since January 1st we are also in 2nd place for the warmest year on record through Sept 18th.  DROUGHT MONITORING: 65% of Georgia is now involved in some level of drought. That’s an increase of 25% in one week. Areas in the state in moderate to severe drought is 22%. Drought now impacting over 5 million Georgia residents (5,069,204). Topsoil moisture was rated as 73% short to very short. AVERAGE DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE THE LAST 120 DAYS: AVERAGE DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL HIGH TEMPERATURE PAST 60 DAYS: The models suggest below-normal rain and above-normal temperatures will continue for an extended period... ECMWF MODEL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL ESTIMATE DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL NEXT 6-WEEKS: Remember that is the average of a 46 day period not every day or every week. The same for the CFSv2 model below which is cooler, but both models show below-normal rainfall. CFSv2 TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL ESTIMATE DEPARTURE FROM NORMAL NEXT 6-WEEKS: Sure we’ve had our brief cold snaps in Winter and Spring but overall on average as the Weatherbell map below shows, the past 10-months have averaged warmer than normal in these parts while rain went from dry to wet to dry over the same period: The Canadian model for the next 6 weeks is not much different than the American and European global variants suggesting we may have to wait until November before we get any lasting period of below-normal temperatures.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • STOP yourself if you think a season months away can be predicted now. NOBODY knows right now. The truth is seasonal forecasting is still in its infancy. Even forecasts made just before a season starts are only a little bit better than a coin toss on average.  Both Farmers Almanacs have been evaluated independently as well at 50% or LESS.  This is also true of various old wives tales like wooly caterpillars, wasp nests, squirrel nests, fog in August, thunder in any month, and all the rest of the old folklore ideas, none have been tested as showing any reliable results.  I’ve been asked if this hot weather means a cold winter. The answer is no, it also does not mean a warm winter. Research does not find a useful correlation between Summer weather and winter weather. IF ONLY forecasting were that easy.  ALMANACS FOR THIS WINTER: They sort of agree on wet for the Southeast (although you can have soakers but end up drier than normal so thats vague). One says a mild winter and one says “brisk” lol. I normally associate brisk with bracing or chilly with a wind. So a mild or brisk winter which will be wet or at least have some of our usual soaking rains but unknown how many or how much. No snow except for Rabun County area. So there you have it, I don’t have to do any research now the verdict is in :) CLIMATE NORMAL OR AVERAGE YEARLY SNOWFALL:  When Atlanta averages only about 2 inches of snow per year over the course of history, it means most years have little or no snow. A handful of big snows skew the average. When you only get about 2 inches per year it’s easy for any given winter to be above OR below normal because the standard deviation is so small.  Peoples memories are short (recency bias) so if in recent years you get more ice and snow than usual people start to think it’s normal, but it IS NOT.  A mild winter with no snow is more typical in Atlanta. If you love snow and cold move North of Tennessee.  One of the weird things about last winter was that while we had an El Nino (+ENSO) in the Pacific Ocean, the atmosphere behaved much of the time as if we had a La Nina (-ENSO). Right now the atmosphere continues to act with a La Nina flavor despite the Pacific being in a mostly neutral condition with some weak El Nino (warm waters) and some weak cooler than normal sea surface temperatures (La Nina) near the equator. Since the condition of ENSO is a major climate driver not knowing which way it will be in winter makes making a forecast even harder than normal right now. Hopefully, trends and models will come into better focus in the months ahead.  As of now it looks like the worst of winter East of the Mississippi River would come in the February-March period something common in the last 20 years.  TYPICAL EL NINO AND LA NINA WINTER PATTERNS: Unless or until which way ENSO goes (EL or LA or neither) becomes more clear we are forced to lean on much less solid methods to estimate the coming winter season.  CURRENT EQUATORIAL SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES (TOP) AND DEPARTURE FROM AVERAGE (BOTTOM): Right now I am looking at the behavior of summer weather, the low solar cycle, the hurricane season so far, and global ocean temperature patterns to come up with the following analog years: Here is the NOAA/NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WINTER OUTLOOK: INTERNATIONAL MULTI-MODEL BLEND: US AND CANADIAN MULTI-MODEL BLEND: So for winter NOAA currently says a mild winter with rain/snow having equal chances of above or below average. The international models show above-normal winter temperatures with slightly above normal precipitation.   The American and Canadian models also suggest a mild winter but with precipitation near normal to below-normal. The analogs go against all the models as of now showing below-normal temperatures with precipitation hovering near-normal. I have to lean towards a winter that has temperatures average near-normal to above-normal with precipitation near to below-normal. Either way this looks about right from August or September or anytime... As always a reminder that whether for a month or a three month period we are talking averages for the entire period not every day or every week.  But remember as I said at the start the models and analogs are NOT a forecast because it’s just way too soon for that. 
  • A weak cold front will approach Tuesday (map above) followed by a “wedge” pattern (CAD) with fair weather high pressure wedging down the lee of the Appalachian Mountains funneling in even drier air and helping to lower temperatures some with some clouds from the NE/E air flow as the week goes on (maps below). The chance of rain is not zero but it’s much lower than normal the next 7 days and most of us will stay dry with temperatures a little more Fall-like by the end of the week, especially at night with lows in the 50s and 60s and highs lowering to the low to mid 80s. 7-DAY ACCUMULATED RAINFALL ESTIMATE: ATLANTA NWS FORECAST DISCUSSION: PivotalWeather maps of precipitable moisture (total moisture content) LATE WEDNESDAY-THURSDAY: PRECIPITABLE (PWAT) MOISTURE FRIDAY: THE MODELS ARE STRUGGLING WITH WHERE TEMPERATURES WILL GO THE NEXT 10-16 DAYS: MY Exclusive 5-Day Forecast here.  Conflicting signals for the end of this month and for October, split between more heat and dryness or cooler and wetter.  OCTOBER ANALOGS TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL: For those of you new to following me “Analogs” are past years that match characteristics to current or recent conditions thus providing a template for possible future weather. (whats past is prologue) OCTOBER CFSv2 MODEL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL: I favor near-normal temperatures to a little above for October on average (warm and cool spells alternate) with below-normal rainfall on average unless a tropical system hits.  For more follow me on Twitter @MelloishMeterWSB.
  • Above-map shows estimated rainfall next 3 days, more dry than wet for Metro Atlanta as for the most part our long dry spell continues: The extreme heat is expected to at least “back down” some this weekend before coming back somewhat next week. Plenty more 90+ days to come before September is done! But looking longer term, in 10-15 days or so, there are signs of an actual jet stream pattern change that may last a while as we replace mid and upper-level high pressure heat ridge with a trough and more of a Northwest to Southeast air flow bringing a change of air mass with it: JET STREAM NOW: JET STREAM LATE MONTH: AIR MASS CHANGE AS ABOVE-NORMAL SHIFTS WEST WITH THE MID AND UPPER LEVEL RIDGE: So if the global equations are right we will shift from our current East and Southern heat ridge to a ridge West and trough East pattern by the end of the month allowing a NW to SE jet stream pattern to bring in temperatures back down to normal or maybe even a little below average as we wind up September and go into October. There are signals that the Month of October should average closer to normal so extreme heat should be gone by then even if we get some warm spells. Unless we get hit by a tropical system the next 2-5 weeks rainfall looks below-normal on average despite a few scattered showers and storms the next 3-7 days, more dry than wet.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • A TROPICAL CYCLONE IS EXPECTED TO FORM NEAR THE NW BAHAMAS as shown above. Tropical Storm Warnings issued in blue. As per my blog this morning AND THE ONE back on Monday the tropics were something to keep an eye on this week and sure enough here we go with the first of probably two or more threats.  We are at peak season right now.  Keep in mind since there is NOT yet a defined low pressure center the forecast track is likely to be less reliable than normal for now.  Also the system could well be around far longer than the 5 days shown in the NHC map above! Below is all of the tropical systems SO FAR this year, not counting the incipient ones we are monitoring currently: The MJO Phase 8-1 provides favorable conditions across the Atlantic and Caribbean into October with positive large-scale mass upper level divergence, i.e. rising air motions.  If the system near the Bahamas gets named Humberto it would be an earlier than average date for the seasons 8th storm, the average being September 20th.  Let me repeat, the future path AND intensity of this system are presently highly uncertain. To quote the National Hurricane Center experts: “more so than usual”.  Some statistical observations from Dr. Phil Klotzbach of CSU: On average about HALF of all Atlantic hurricane seasons have at least two hurricane landfalls on the U.S. lower 48. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The late season heat wave continues and drought is growing. Yes a heat wave this extreme is rare in September but certainly not unprecedented. We get 90s into October in some years, but what IS unusual is the length of the string of consecutive 90 days and having the hottest days of the summer come after July or August.  Having the hottest temperature of the summer come in September only happens 20% or LESS of the time. Yesterday we tied a 2010 record Wednesday at 96F.  Today we probably break a 119 year old record high of 94 when we reach a high of 96/97 late this afternoon.  Temps are expected to back down closer to 90 this weekend but 90-95 next week IF we don’t get any tropical moisture. This will be our 75th day with a high of 90 or higher this year. Last year the final 90 high of the year was on October 6th, the latest 90 on record is October 9th in 1941. The most 90 degree days in a year on record is 90 so we may make a run at it after another couple weeks of above-normal temperatures on average.  At least SOME increase in badly needed rain is expected gradually over the next 5 days as fronts approach from the Northwest and moisture increases from the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico associated with tropical systems we are monitoring. IF one or more of those systems tracks just West of or across Georgia then obviously temps would be cooler and rain more widespread (too soon to tell as two tropical systems are just forming now). An upper level ridge of high pressure over the Southeast is responsible for the hot dry conditions: What happens to that ridge will impact where any tropical storms or hurricanes will go. DROUGHT MONITOR: NHC 80% RED AND 40% ORANGE CHANCE OF TROPICAL DEPRESSION: PAST WEATHER HISTORY THIS TIME OF YEAR: EUROPEAN ENSEMBLE TROPICAL STORM PROBABILITIES: Right now the spaghetti models are all over the place with the first system, with two clusters: one across the South tip of Florida and into the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and the other up near the East Coast.  ESTIMATED 5-DAY RAINFALL ACCUMULATION: For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • It’s safe to say it’s been a sweltering September. Monday fell just short of breaking a record, while Tuesday’s heat broke a record and Wednesday’s heat tied another. For more than a century, the record for Sept. 12 had held strong — until this afternoon. Atlanta hit 99 degrees earlier Thursday afternoon, shattering the previous record of 94 set in 1900, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said. This time of year, temperatures should reach only 84 degrees on average. Under lots of sunshine and mainly dry conditions, temps were able to climb quickly. Several atmospheric conditions are factoring into the heat, including an area of high pressure that is running the show. The record high is also in jeopardy Friday, Channel 2 reported. “Through today, through tomorrow, into Saturday, still showing this strong high pressure in control,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said. “That’s going to mean really hot temperatures across North Georgia.” The weather isn’t the only thing hot in metro Atlanta. Activity on I-20 in Douglas County warmed up quickly after a wreck blocked nearly all eastbound lanes at Lee Road, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. At 5:30 p.m., the crash was cleared, but delays span into Cobb County. Speaking of Cobb, a tractor-trailer diesel spill is blocking two right lanes of I-285’s inner loop exit ramps to I-75, according to the Traffic Center. That is causing delays on the Perimeter back to I-20. The rain chance Thursday is slim, so don’t expect a shower to quell the heat, Monahan said. “If we squeeze out a shower, it will be in the northeast Georgia mountains. Otherwise through tonight, mainly clear and quiet,” Monahan said. “Tomorrow morning, we start warm and dry. It’s going to be another hot Friday across North Georgia.” Temps are eventually coming down, he said. A tropical wave over eastern Cuba on Thursday morning has the potential to bring rain into North Georgia and help tamp down the heat. The wave of storms has two possible tracks, one that brings the wave into the Gulf of Mexico and another that sends it along the eastern coast of Florida.  “You want a break in the heat? You need to root for this to head to the Gulf of Mexico,” Monahan said. The system now has an 80% chance of developing into a tropical storm and would be called Humberto. By Sunday, metro Atlanta should break its 90-degree streak, according to Channel 2. The projected high is 89.  “That’s when we start to watch that tropical wave that does have the potential to bring us some more rain clouds and cooler temperatures by next week,” Monahan said.  » For a detailed forecast, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weather page. » For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.  » Download The Atlanta Journal-Constitution app for weather alerts on-the-go.
  • Atlanta temperatures have threatened to break records all week, and Thursday will be no different. Numbers fell just short of a record 100 degrees Monday, broke the record at 98 Tuesday and tied the record at 96 Wednesday. The projected high Thursday is 97 degrees, which would again break the record of 94, according to Channel 2 Action News.  If it does, it would make this Sept. 12 the hottest on record in more than 100 years. The last time Atlanta saw this kind of heat was 1900. “It’s going to be awfully hot, record hot again today across North Georgia,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said. Atlanta is already warm with a starting temperature of 76 degrees. Under lots of sunshine and mainly dry conditions, temps will climb quickly Thursday, Monahan said.  “The concrete, the pavement, the bigger buildings in the metro keep that heat in overnight, so it is much warmer as you head inside I-285 to start the day,” he said. Monahan said several atmospheric conditions are factoring into the heat, including an area of high pressure that is running the show. A record is also in jeopardy Friday. “Through today, through tomorrow, into Saturday, still showing this strong high pressure in control,” he said. “That’s going to mean really hot temperatures across North Georgia.” This time of year, temperatures should reach 84 degrees on average. Atlanta is likely to blow past that number at midmorning, according to Channel 2.  By midafternoon, heat indexes are predicted to climb into the triple digits for much of North Georgia.  “If we squeeze out a shower, it will be in the northeast Georgia mountains, otherwise through tonight, mainly clear and quiet,” Monahan said. “Tomorrow morning, we start warm and dry. It’s going to be another hot Friday across North Georgia.” Temperatures are eventually coming down, he said. A tropical wave over eastern Cuba Thursday morning has the potential to bring rain into North Georgia and help tamp down the heat. The wave of storms has two possible tracks, one that brings the wave into the Gulf of Mexico and another that sends it along the eastern coast of Florida.  “You want a break in the heat? You need to root for this to head to the Gulf of Mexico,” Monahan said. By Sunday, metro Atlanta should break its 90-degree streak, according to Channel 2. The projected high is 89 degrees.  “That’s when we start to watch that tropical wave that does have the potential to bring us some more rain clouds and cooler temperatures by next week,” Monahan said.  Heavy delays remain at the Cherokee-Cobb county line after a widely-scattered crash shut down all southbound lanes of I-75 Thursday morning, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. The crash involved a jackknifed tractor-trailer, the Traffic Center reported. The interstate was completely shut down south of Ga. 92 between Acworth and Kennesaw until lanes began opening at 6:30 a.m. One left lane remained closed at 7:30 a.m., according to the Traffic Center.  “If you are making your way in from the northwestern suburbs, your best alternates are U.S. 41 or I-575,” traffic reporter Mark Arum said. The I-75 express lanes are accessible at Hickory Grove Road, which Arum said will also get commuters around the bumper-to-bumper delays. » For a detailed forecast, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weather page. » For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.  » Download The Atlanta Journal-Constitution app for weather alerts on-the-go.
  • An upper level jet stream high pressure heat wave ridge worthy of mid-summer is providing our heat wave giving us abnormally hot weather for this time of year with record or near record levels before it backs down some. Meanwhile it’s peak tropical cyclone season (tropical storms and hurricanes) in the Atlantic and Caribbean so we need to watch as there are plenty of “seeds” out there from North Africa to the ocean waters the rest of this month not just the ones shown below. The gulf will have to be monitored given some weakness in the underbelly of the high pressure ridge and then a reforming of the ridge over the Great Smokies and then Bermuda positions. So one area to watch will be from the Bahamas West through Florida to Texas. Indicators for October are for temperatures to average near-normal to a little above-normal. Rainfall is expected to average below-normal the next 6 weeks absent any tropical systems that can’t be foreseen at this time. There continues to be some support for November to change to below-normal temperatures. ENSEMBLES: The air conditioning bill and watering bill remain higher than normal longer than normal with the heat coinciding with a long dry spell for growing drought. The average number of 90 days for Atlanta in a year is 37, 90 is the record number. Sept 9th marks our 72nd 90 or higher day of 2019 with more to come the rest of the week. The record high today is 100 in 1925 with upper 90s expected.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • It may be the second week of September, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Atlanta has hit 99 degrees, and the city may not be done warming up, according to Channel 2 Action News. With the start of fall officially two weeks away, temperatures could hit a record-tying 100 degrees Monday. Eatonton has already hit 100, and even the North Georgia mountains have broken the 90-degree mark. “It's brutal out there,” Channel 2 chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said. “Just an extraordinarily hot day across northern Georgia.” The only thing cool about Monday is traffic, which features only a few problem spots, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.  A prior gas leak on Georgia Tech’s campus prompted evacuations at the Center Street North Apartments, blocking Hemphill Road between Ferst Drive and 10th Street in the process, university police said. The leak has since been fixed, allowing the road to reopen. A car fire heated up Clayton County interstates ahead of the evening commute, according to the Traffic Center. A left lane of I-285 West remains blocked near Riverdale Road as crews work to move the burned vehicle. Both the Perimeter and I-75 are seeing delays.  Ga. 400 is also seeing delays after a crash blocked a northbound lane near Abernathy Road, causing backups into Buckhead, according to the Traffic Center. The last time Atlanta hit 100 degrees on this date, it was 1925, Burns said. This time of year, Atlanta should be in the mid-80s. “This week, get used to these two words: very and hot,” he said. An area of high pressure is contributing to all the heat. As a result, air quality is poor. A Code Orange smog alert is in effect for all of metro Atlanta, and the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for those south of I-20. “Because we have that high sitting right overhead ... you trap all those pollutants,” Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said. “The ozone, the car exhaust, all that kind of stuff just builds up in the lower levels of the atmosphere.” Some rain is in the forecast Monday, but most should stay dry. Monahan said an isolated shower is 20% likely on the Southside. “A little better chance of rain on Tuesday, and we'll drop the heat just a little bit,” he said.   A few showers should  begin to develop in the early afternoon, according to Channel 2. Into the evening, downpours are possible.  With a 30% chance of rain Tuesday, the projected high drops back to 94 degrees. The rest of the work week should be pretty dry, but Monahan said a shift in the rain pattern could bring some cooler weather by the weekend. Temperatures on Sunday will be a little closer to average with a high of 89 degrees, according to the latest forecast. » For a detailed forecast, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weather page. » For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow @ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.  » Download The Atlanta Journal-Constitution app for weather alerts on-the-go.