Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Welcome Rain Should Keep More Trees From Turning Colors Early

This morning was a special one! There is nothing quite like it. It was the first day of school. The girls made it through their first big morning back to school routine with flying colors. They had no trouble waking up and could not wait to see all their friends again after a long, hot summer. Megan and Abbey had their outfits all picked out and things ran smoother than I thought possible. I snapped some great pictures of them by the Black-eyed Susans. Yes, I was getting plenty emotional and had a lump in my throat. You will see why when I post some pictures later today. The bus was even on time this morning.

We can even give nature a passing grade which we have not done much of this summer. The rain not only gave us free lawn-waterings but held off until the kids got to school. I am thankful we have such great schools and teachers in Indiana. It is one of the big reasons I love living in Lafayette. I also love our ever-changing weather and the latest maps are showing an active and more typical weather patttern for this time of year with plenty of rain chances through Thursday and again this weekend. Temperatures may hold in the 70s this weekend! It is just what all of us ordered, not just the doctor! Here is a rainfall map through Sunday and these amounts may be conservative!

I am still confident rainfall will pick up as we finish out August and head into Autumn. The overall pattern is not stagnant like we have seen the last several weeks. One big reason is the La Nina in the Pacific Ocean is really starting to take hold. These cooler than average temperatures in the equatorial Pacific should help stir things up here in the Midwest. But this will also stir up plenty of trouble in the tropics, which I will get to. This rain could not come soon enough. I hope that 1 to 3 inch range can be extended over us, but at this point I will take the 1" of rain. How dry has it been? It has been so dry some trees have changed color early. That is right, this dry pattern has stressed out the trees so much they are losing their leaves two months earlier than they normally do. Here is one of many trees with yellow leaves around the area.

This is not a sign of a bad winter ahead. In fact, most of the weather proverbs say that the longer the trees hold their leaves the harsher the winter. This is not good news if you love real snowy winters. The good news is this is not really giving us an accurate winter forecast. The trees are just feeling the impact of our extremely dry pattern. Officially it is our 7th driest growing season in the last 113 years and Miami and Howard Counties are now officially in drought conditions with Tippecanoe County still on the brink of drought. Unfortunately if we do not get some more rainfall soon, it will cause our fall foliage season to be drab with no brilliant colors and fiery leaves like we normally see. So bring on the rain! Here is when our fall foliage season normally peaks in the Midwest.

Now are you ready for autumn? I am, after looking at the map above. This weekend we may have a hint of autumn in the air as a polar air mass holds together. I will have more on this big cool down tonight on the news.

Also, as we so often see this time of year is that when we start to cool down in the Midwest, the tropics really start to heat up. Sure enough, Tropical Storm Dean has formed in the Atlantic and could pose problems for the Windward Islands late this week and the mainland U.S. by next week. Another tropical disturbance may form into a storm before then in the Gulf of Mexico. In the Pacific, even the land of Paradise is bracing itself. Hurricane Flossie is still expected to move just south of Hawaii with close to hurricane force wind gusts possible along with 20 foot waves and flooding rain. So we are not the only ones with an active forecast. Here is the latest track on Flossie.

Only two hurricanes have hit Hawaii since 1950 thanks to cooler waters that surround the islands. As of early this morning Flossie was still a major hurricane. But, it is moving into cooler waters and this should help to weaken Hurricane Flossie enough so that even if Hawaii is on the worst side of the storm, sustained wind speeds should stay below 50 mph. But flooding is still a big concern along with beach erosion. Have a great day and my hats off to all the parents and teachers that made the first day of school a big success.

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