The past few days have posed quite the challenge for meteorologists not just in our area, but throughout the entire southeast. If you were given the chance to come to the weather center, you'd probably see a fair amount of hair on my forecast sheets. Yes...lots of head-scratching.
We dealt with a weather set-up that is fairly common in the southeastern United States...common in the fall and winter months, not so much in August. Yet, this isn't the first time that we've encountered it this summer. Before you say that this is the coolest summer we've had, let me just remind you that we did exceed 90 degrees fourteen times since June. Just have to throw that out there!
Regardless, we have cooler than typical late July-early August weather. After Saturday's forecast bust, it was time to sit down and think. Why did the forecast not pan out? Oftentimes, it's very helpful to look at what's happened in the past. History likes to repeat itself, even in weather.
At the top of this post, you'll see a graphic with the record coolest high temperatures for two major cities in North Carolina, one major area of South Carolina and the Tri-Cities. For the three cities east of the mountains, their record cool highs came in 1970. For us, it was rather cool as well that day (76 degrees). The temperatures yesterday, were eerily similar. Time to investigate:
This is the setup from August 10th, 1970, the day of record chill for areas east of the Appalachians. It's called "damming" or a "wedge." High pressure to the north and low pressure to the south acted to push air up against the mountain, essentially locking much of North and South Carolina under a "cold dome." Moisture south of a frontal boundary aided in some heavy rainfall as well.
Now fast forward to the setup over the past few days:
Well would you look at that?! Eerily similar, isn't it? Air banking up against the mountains, and moisture over-riding a stalled out boundary to the south. And the results were quite similar as well (see graphic at the top of this post)! The same day, just 44 years later...a similar weather pattern yielding a similar result.
So what's to take from all of this? As a meteorologist, it's a lesson that sometimes history can repeat itself, especially when the weather pattern stands out as unusual. History can repeat itself, even in weather!
---Meteorologist Chris Michaels---
Facebook: Chris Michaels WCYB