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Crisp fall weather on the way

By Skip Rigney

It’s been nearly two weeks since the temperature has even come close to 90 degrees in Pearl River County. This past Saturday through Monday, thanks to a combination of Tropical Storm Beta in the western Gulf and strong high pressure centered over the northeastern United States, a damp, cool northeasterly breeze kept our daytime temperatures hovering near 70 degrees.
This past week, the remnants of Beta slowly crawled along a path from southeast Texas to north Alabama. That helped keep our skies cloudy for much of the week. Warmer air from the Gulf of Mexico has gradually returned to south Mississippi. Temperatures in the middle 80s are forecast each afternoon this weekend.
Despite the hints of fall in last weekend’s cool, damp air, we have yet to have that breakout day that most of us associate with the first significant cool front of the season. You know the feeling when you walk outside in the morning to a bright blue sky, a crisp north breeze, and temperatures in the 50s.
Well, the wait is almost over. Today a strong cool front is pushing across the northern Great Plains. It’s downright hot ahead of the front in the central Plains. This afternoon’s high temperature in Liberal, Kansas, is forecast to be near 100 degrees.
But, the cool front will pass them tonight. Sunday’s highs in Kansas will be in the 70s and Monday’s in the 60s.
The cool front will continue moving southeastward and is predicted to pass across the Gulf Coast sometime late Monday or Monday night. Showers and thunderstorms are likely ahead of and near the front.
We will definitely feel a difference in the air on Tuesday morning behind the front. A secondary, reinforcing cool front is forecast to arrive later in the week. No rain is expected with the second front.
Each day from Wednesday through next weekend is forecast to begin with blue skies and the cool, crisp feel of autumn that many of us have been looking forward to during the long, hot, humid Mississippi summer. Expect lows in the 50s and highs in the 70s.
Those temperatures are a little cooler than average for the beginning of October. Based on historical data, the average daily low and high in Picayune for October 1st are 61 and 84 degrees. By the end of October, those daily averages drop to 50 and 76 degrees.
The cooling of the ground and lower atmosphere during October help stabilize the atmosphere. Combine that with more frequent dry, northerly winds and less frequent flow from the Gulf of Mexico, and we have the ingredients for what is often our driest month of the year.
Two to four inches of total rainfall in October is typical for south Mississippi, but a wide range of conditions is possible. In several years, Poplarville has received no rain during October, with 2005 being the most recent such occurrence.
At the other end of the spectrum was October 1985, when the monthly total was over 13 inches, partially due to the wandering of Hurricane Juan in the northern Gulf late that October.
I will be perfectly content if the entire month of October is a continuation of how the month is forecast to begin this year.