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Expert: Midlands to stay hot, dry through the end of this month

This could be one of warmest Septembers recorded for area, according to weather service

BY BRUCE MILLS
bruce@theitem.com
Posted 9/20/19

Don't let the cooler temperatures this week fool you. It's going to start to sizzle again in Sumter and the Midlands this weekend and likely through the end of the month.

This month is shaping up to be one of the hottest Septembers ever in the …

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Expert: Midlands to stay hot, dry through the end of this month

This could be one of warmest Septembers recorded for area, according to weather service

Posted

Don't let the cooler temperatures this week fool you. It's going to start to sizzle again in Sumter and the Midlands this weekend and likely through the end of the month.

This month is shaping up to be one of the hottest Septembers ever in the Midlands, according to National Weather Service-Columbia Meteorologist Leonard Vaughan. He reviewed monthly totals Wednesday and looked at a two-week forecast through Sept. 30.

For the first 17 days of the month through Tuesday, it was the third-warmest September in the Columbia area for that time period by average daily temperature (82.7 degrees) and second-warmest by average daily high temperature (94), Vaughan said after crunching the service's official databases.

The hottest for the first 17 days of September? That was 94 years ago in 1925 when the average daily temp reading was 96.5 degrees.

On Tuesday, the federal weather agency had high-temperature readings of 95 degrees at Shaw Air Force Base, 98 at the Columbia downtown airport and two 100-degree readings - in Augusta and Barnwell, Vaughan said.

With some longed-for respite, Wednesday's high in Columbia was just 84 degrees, and today's high is forecasted to be 85 as the Midlands is experiencing its "first good cool weather now" with winds out of the north and northeast, which are normally cooler winds for the central part of South Carolina, Vaughan said.

Those lower highs won't last. This weekend, temperatures are forecasted to go back up to 89 on Saturday and 91 on Sunday, and the remainder of the month is looking to be hot and dry, he said, according to official forecasts.

September's heat follows a slightly warmer-than-usual August, with an average daily high temperature of 92.6, which was about 1.5 degrees above normal.

WHEN WILL IT COOL DOWN FOR GOOD?

The continued summer-months weather pattern will break down at some point, Vaughan said, and it will gradually get a little cooler as days get shorter in the fall.

"But we've been holding onto summer pretty hard, except for this week," he said. "Hopefully, in October we can get a good front to come in here, and we can cool off for a while, and maybe the pattern will break a little bit."

WE STILL NEED RAIN

September has been "really dry" with just 1.64 inches of rainfall at the Columbia airport through the first 17 days, according to the weather service and Vaughan. The rainfall average for the entire month is 3.54 inches.

Because of the dry conditions, on Wednesday the state Drought Response Committee voted to classify 31 of the state's 46 counties - including Sumter, Clarendon and Lee - as suffering "moderate drought," which is the second in four worsening stages.

The vote came after the committee had a discussion on whether to advance some counties to the next stage - "severe drought" - based on crop damage, according to The Associated Press. The panel decided to wait because lake levels, stream flow and groundwater and reservoir levels are still normal or above normal because of several wetter-than-normal years.

"It's not a 'moderate drought' for farmers who are losing everything," South Carolina State Climatologist Hope Mizzell told AP.

Vaughan said the committee and farmers are concerned because October and November are generally two of the driest months of the year in the state. Average monthly rainfall in October is 3.17 inches, according to the weather service, and 2.74 inches for November.