This year, we had many pleasant days in August. Our temperatures were above average for the month. We had six days in the 90s, which included one three-day heat wave from Aug. 10 to 12. A high of 94 degrees occurred on the 12th. The low was 54 degrees on Aug. 27.
It is interesting to note that we had a very dry day on Aug. 26, when our relative humidity dropped to 25% and the dew point 35 degrees — a rare occurrence indeed.
Our precipitation was 1.69 inches in Salem, far below the August average of 3.37 inches. Even though Tropical Storm Isaias passed by offshore on Aug. 4, Salem recorded a mere 0.25 inches of rain. We did, however, have winds that gusted to 50 mph.
On the 23rd, a narrow line of severe thunderstorms crossed along the middle of the state and intensified as it raced across our local region. This was our only thunderstorm for the month here in Salem. It produced a sudden torrential downpour of 0.66 inches in just a few minutes — the most rain of any day in the month. Lightning was spectacular with roaring rumbling claps of thunder.
Although winds were not strong in some parts of our area, dramatic flooding occurred in parts of Essex County with damaging microbursts bringing down trees and power lines.
September is here, and our temperatures will begin to drop with the coming autumn. The Fall Equinox arrives on Sept. 22 at 9:32 a.m., when the sun is directly over the Equator. It marks the end of our summer and the start of fall. Our daylight hours will become fewer and fewer from that day until Dec. 21.
We can expect our temperatures to become noticeably cooler, with afternoon highs in the upper 70s, cooling off to the low 60s by dawn during the start of the month. Toward month’s end, our high readings should be in the high 60s, dropping to the low 50s by the early morning hours.
Looking back in our records, we had a high reading of 98 degrees in 2007 and a chilling low of 33 degrees in 1991. Local gardeners, be aware that it is possible for low lying areas to have an early frost.
Our September precipitation is usually 3.53 inches. But we have had as much as 8.48 inches in 1987 and as little as 0.65 inches in 1978.
If you look closely, you may see those first subtle changes in our treasured New England foliage that will soon merge into our spectacular fall display.
Again looking back 66 years to September 1954, we recall Hurricane Edna, which followed just 11 days after Hurricane Carol. Hurricane Edna was another deadly and destructive major hurricane that impacted our east coastal regions. It changed from a Category 2 to Category 1 hurricane near landfall in Massachusetts on Sept. 1.
Even so, heavy rain and gusty winds prevailed over eastern Massachusetts as Edna tracked quickly to the northeast and passed directly over Cape Cod with winds gusting to 120 mph. Coastal surf was impressive.
Weatherwise, what will fall bring this year?
Arthur A. Francis is a Salem meteorologist.