An unsettled weather period is likely to set up over our area early next week, which will lead to wet weather. But weather enthusiasts are watching the potential for a strong cold front to invade our region, bringing the biggest taste of fall so far this season by the end of the week.
The set up is a developing atmospheric trough over the eastern U.S., and a moist flow from the Gulf of Mexico that will fuel widespread showers and storms from Sunday all the way through Wednesday of next week. For now it looks like 2-3 inches of rain may fall during that period.
But that pattern will eventually be broken down as a frontal boundary invades the region, ushering in cooler and dryer air from our northwest.
How cool? Right now, it looks like we could see temperatures dip into the 40s at night by the end of next week.
It should be pointed out that, if this setup materializes as it looks like it might, it won’t be our first 40s of the season. We hit a low of 49° in Oneida on Sept. 10 and again on Sept. 11, and some outlying areas dropped into the upper 40s the morning of Sept. 12, as well.
But next week could be even cooler than that. The GFS computer model is currently projecting a couple of mornings (Thursday and Friday) with lows in the mid 40s. And highs might not get out of the 60s on Thursday afternoon. That would be a quite delightful taste of fall for the pumpkin spice crowd.
We’re off to a start to fall that’s hard to complain about. Meteorological fall began on Sept. 1, and so far our temperature for the month is running right at two degrees below normal. Rainfall is also below normal, though not enough so for drought to threaten. Certainly, September has been nicer so far than August, which was warmer than normal and very wet here on the Cumberland Plateau. Still, most folks are weary of summer-like weather and anxiously awaiting those cool, crisp mornings that give an excuse to break out the jackets and hoodies. And it looks like late next week might provide just such an opportunity, though it’ll be short-lived.
For what it’s worth, the National Weather Service is forecasting a low of 54° Thursday morning with a high of 73° Thursday afternoon. But it isn’t unusual for the NWS to weight its forecast towards seasonal norms if models are showing extreme temperatures towards the tail-end of the forecast period. (Not that lows in the mid 40s and highs in the upper 60s are extreme for this time of year, but they are several degrees below normal.)
Also, the GFS model’s output statistics, which are also weighted towards climatology, project temperatures that are quite a bit warmer than the operational model shows.
Still, it doesn’t matter which way you cut it, two things appear certain. The first is an increased likelihood of wet weather to start next week, and the second is the likelihood of very pleasant weather to end the week.
Just in case you’re wondering, a low in the mid 40s wouldn’t be anywhere close to a record next week. Back on Sept. 23, 1983, Oneida hit 30°! But on the same date in 2007, we topped out at a ridiculous 91°. A lot of long-range forecasters were comparing the start of Fall 2021 with Fall 2007 and Fall 2016, so we can be fortunate that our weather hasn’t turned out that way so far.