CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – If you are a fan of the summertime heat and the dry conditions persisting, then this forecast is for you! Though Autumn officially begins on September 23rd, you definitely would not be able to tell by the weather in our region!
During the first eighteen day of September, Charleston has reached 90 degrees an astounding ten times, with Huntington not far behind at six. In fact, during the month of September, Charleston’s average high temperature is 89.7 degrees through the first 18 days, compared to a monthly average high of 77.8 degree – that’s nearly twelve degrees above normal average! Meanwhile, Huntington is averaging a slightly cooler but a still hot 88.0 degrees, which is 9.2 degrees above its monthly average high of 78.8 degrees.
The extreme heat has been historically impressive already, with Charleston now up to 46 90 degree days. That’s the third highest total over the last fifty years, only behind 2007 (54) and 1988 (49) for the river city! With the average per year being only 22 90 degree days, we’re at over double the yearly average! Huntington’s numbers are not quite as impressive, with 29 total 90 degree days, but that’s still seven over the average of 22 for the River City.
The main reason for the heat? A dominate blocking ridge pattern that has kept most of the eastern United States baking while the Pacific northwest remains cool. This pattern has dominated the eastern half of the country since late June. As a result, 41 of the last 80 days in Charleston have resulted in highs in the 90s. Despite that many 90 degree days, none have reached 100, with the hottest temperature occurring just a few days ago on September 13th (98 degrees). The high number of 90 degree days is especially impressive because as of June 30th, Charleston only had 5 90 degree days, with 4 in Huntington.
Our last 90 degree day in Charleston was on Monday and Huntington reached 90 Thursday! That’s pretty late in the year to be experiencing this kind of heat, and there are still multiple opportunities for us to hit 90 degrees before the summer season is over. Charleston’s average last day of 90 degree weather is on August 29th, with Gallipolis averaging September 1st, and Huntington averaging September 5th – needless to say, we’re usually wrapping up the 90 degree days by now.
As we look ahead over the next couple of weeks, the heat looks to continue, as that blocking ridge never really gets oppressed. Long-term models three to four weeks out in advance do point at a cooler and more seasonable weather pattern emerging by the first week of October.
In addition to the heat, it has also been extremely dry – historically dry in fact. If September’s last day were today, we would be at record dry months for September in Charleston and Huntington in terms of total rainfall. Charleston has received 0.09″ of rain, and only one day out of the entire first 18 days of the month recorded rainfall.
Huntington is even more impressive, with no measurable days of rain being observed, and an official total of “Trace” (<0.01″) of rain recorded. The record for least amount of precipitation in September for Charleston is 0.12″ (1903) and 0.11″ (2008) in Huntington.
Huntington’s lack of rainfall is all the more rare and historical. In fact, there has not been measurable rainfall in Huntington since August 21st – 21 days ago! That’s now the fifth longest span of no measurable rainfall being recorded in Huntington over the last fifty years. The record is 24 days, and aside from an isolated cell possible in our western areas Friday, the River City has a fantastic chance of tying or breaking the record, with the next chance of rain being on Monday.
The combination of heat and dry weather has kick-started a drought across the region. Most areas are abnormally dry conditions, with a moderate drought being reported in parts of southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. These levels of drought have not been experienced since the end of 2016 and is in general, pretty rare.
Unfortunately, the chances for rain are pretty small over the next seven days. We’ll have a cold front pass through the region Monday, which should give us a few scattered showers and thunderstorms – but minimal rainfall totals likely of less than a quarter of an inch is expected, so this will not cut into the developing drought conditions across the region. In fact, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting more dry weather to persist at least for the next couple of weeks in the tri-state.
With this in mind, please be extremely careful burning! Though fall fire season doesn’t start until October 1st, the leaves are already coming down, and it is VERY dry outside – please be careful!