South’s sweltering summer heat should finally come to end soon (we pray)

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, October 2, 2019

By Kyle Elliott, AccuWeather meteorologist

For residents across the southern United States that are wondering when the seemingly endless stretch of record-challenging heat is going to end, there is finally some good news on the horizon.

A sprawling and nearly stationary area of high pressure has been to blame for the “extended summer” sizzling the Deep South and Southeast during September and into the start of October.

This high pressure system will begin to weaken, shrink in size and get beaten down through the weekend as multiple storm systems force a push of cooler air progressively farther south.

However, relief is still a few days away as more hot and humid days are in store through the end of the week.

“Many cities will once again challenge record-high temperatures through Thursday, some of which have stood for over 100 years,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.

He added that the combination of sunshine, heat, humidity and light winds will push AccuWeather RealFeelĀ® Temperatures to 100 degrees Fahrenheit or higher across a large portion of the South during the afternoon hours on Wednesday and again on Thursday.

Residents in Atlanta, Georgia, experienced the second-warmest September on record with an average monthly temperature of 82.4. The warmest September on record occurred in 1925, when the average monthly temperature was 83.0.

To put this statistic in perspective, the normal high temperature during the second half of September in Atlanta is never higher than 82, so the mean monthly temperature was higher than the average high during the second half of the month.

Atlanta will continue to experience record-shattering heat through Friday and is forecast to set a new record for most 90-degree days in a year by week’s end. High temperatures through Friday are forecast to soar into the middle to upper 90s.

“As of Tuesday, Oct. 1, Atlanta has hit 90 on 88 different occurrences during 2019 and is expected to have reached that landmark 91 times by the end of the day on Friday, which would break the previous record of 90 occurrences in a single year,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson.

Just one day into the month, a number of cities in the South have already experienced their hottest October day on record.

“In all, at least three dozen major airport locations set or tied October high temperature records in the eastern U.S. on Tuesday,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell.

It is not just Atlanta that will continue to experience record heat through week’s end. Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama; Macon and Augusta, Georgia; Columbia and Florence, South Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina, are among the cities that are expected to challenge or set new daily record highs.

Anybody planning on spending prolonged time outdoors this week should be sure to take frequent breaks from the heat in an air-conditioned building and drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages in order to minimize the risk for heat-related illnesses.

The elderly, young children and those with respiratory ailments are urged to limit time outdoors until the heat wave ends this weekend into early next week.

A cold front sliding to the southwest down the eastern slopes of the Appalachians will act as the first cooling mechanism this weekend, bringing relief to Virginia, the Carolinas and much of Georgia.

High temperatures in the 90s will be replaced with highs in the 70s and 80s across these areas over the weekend.

Although 90-degree heat will still bake the Deep South this weekend, increased cloud cover will prevent highs from surging into record territory.

It is by early next week that summer will finally be brought to a screeching halt across the entirety of the southern United States. A vigorous cold front that will first bring beneficial rainfall to the drought-stricken South from Monday into Monday night will then usher in the unofficial start to autumn by midweek.

Behind this front, low humidity is expected to accompany high temperatures generally in the 70s and 80s from the Tennessee River Valley to the Gulf Coast.

The cooler air and rainfall that precedes it will help put a small dent in the drought and provide a safer setting for outdoor sporting events, construction projects and exercise routines.

Fortunately, there are no signs that the unbearable heat and humidity will return to the South for the rest of the year.