By Arthur A. Francis
Special to the salem news
---- — Weatherwise, this September was a winner.
Overall, our temperatures were a little below average. Surprisingly, however, on the 11th, we soared to 98 degrees. The lowest temperature was 40 degrees. We had just 2.22 inches of rain, considerably below average. There were five days with brief, light thunderstorm activity. Some early-morning dense fog, with visibility reduced to zero, occurred on the last two days of the month.
The significant feature of the month was the abundant amount of sunshine. There were only two days with completely overcast skies. Thus, the month turned out to be delightful for everyone, especially those on vacation.
The fall, or autumnal equinox, occurred on the 22nd. The much-earlier sunsets and later sunrises are now very apparent. From now until March of next year, our daylight hours will be fewer than the nighttime hours. The transition from summer to fall has taken place.
Yes, time has quickly passed by, and the glorious peak foliage month of October is here. Our beautiful autumn spectacular is at its finest as our country landscape becomes enhanced with the brilliant hues of red, orange and yellow. Sometimes, the higher peaks of the White Mountains receive an early, pristine blanket of snow. This, in combination with the deep blue of the sky and the radiant foliage, offers a scenic delight that is hard to match anywhere.
At the beginning of the month, our daytime high temperatures usually climb into the upper 60s, dropping to low 50s by sunrise. We will have a noticeable decline in temperature toward month’s end, with highs reaching the upper 50s and dropping to the low 40s or chilling upper 30s by sunrise.
Checking back on our records for the past 34 years, we experienced our highest October temperature of 86 degrees in 1997. Our lowest temperature was a winter-like 23 degrees in 1988. Usually, our rainfall for October is about 3.5 inches. However, we have had as much as 12.38 inches, as in 1996, which resulted in local flooding. In contrast, we had a very dry October in 1994, when we received only 0.43 inches.
Although October is usually not noted for severe storms, there was one significant exception. This was the unprecedented, early nor’easter called The Perfect Storm (The Halloween Howler) of 1991 that resulted in extremely heavy seas and extensive coastal damage. The surf at nearby Devereux Beach in Marblehead was spectacular.
Hmm, how about snow? Although, not a usual occurrence, we can and have had snow during this early fall month. As recently as 2011, we had just over 4 inches of snow right here in Salem.
So, enjoy October — the warmth of the summer sun may be waning and the transition from summer to deep fall is in full swing. Nevertheless, the crisp, bright days instill a feeling of excitement that enhances the joy of living.