A heat wave that brought record high temperatures to the region this week finally broke Thursday, but the region is expected to continue to suffer from moderate drought conditions.
October began with back-to-back temperature records. On Tuesday, temperatures hit a high of 94 degrees, breaking the 93 degree record for Oct. 1 set in 1897. On Wednesday, another record day was recorded with a high of 94 degrees. The previous Oct. 2 record was 90 degrees, set in 1900. It has been the hottest start to fall in over a century.
Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones said Miami Valley Ohioans should now see typical October, “football” temperature conditions. However, the moderate drought is likely to continue, meaning fall foliage colors could be less vibrant, or at least arrive later than normal this season.
The heat this late in the season is combining with drier than normal conditions to cause some trees to drop leaves early and others to delay the turn to fall colors, said Tyler Stevenson, a forester with Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
“Mild drought is good for the bright reds and purples, but when you get to much more of a lack of rain, it definitely affects those colors not being as bright,” Stevenson said. “Those reds won’t pop as much if the drought continues.”
October and February are two of the driest months typically of the year. The region is already running about six to eight inches below the average rainfall at this point in the year, Jones said, so it is not likely southwest Ohio will see enough rain this month to make up the difference.
“What will happen is that if you are forecasting a temperature, if it’s wet, it’s going to be cooler,” Jones said. “Sun will come down and warm up the ground. But if the ground is moist, it sort of reflects some of that away from warming up the temperature. But if it’s dry, then that will heat things up a little bit. That’s what has been happening.”
But now that the abnormally hot spell has broken, Jones said he expects the Miami Valley to return to average fall precipitation and temperature marks.
“Now that we’re starting to see this pattern break, we’re starting to see temperatures come back down to around 70 degrees which is typical for this time of year,” Jones said. “We’re not seeing any big spikes in heat or cold spells. However, outside of seven to 10 days, weather becomes unreliable because it’s just constantly changing. But right now, the pattern for the month seems to be normal.”
This weekend will be a sharp contrast to the beginning of the week. Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini predicts a crisp Saturday morning in the 40s and high pushing around 70 degrees. Sunday should be another cool morning with highs continuing around 70 degrees.
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