August 2017: Up and Down End to Meteorological Summer

Posted: September 14, 2017, 8:52 am by chewitt

 Dog days of summer? What dog days of summer? 

The last holdout of the season for characteristic summer weather didn’t exactly pan out as some typically expect in August 2017. This was not unusual for this year though, especially given the pattern that has dominated over the course of the season. Those looking for extensive, consistent hot and sunny stretches for the last month of meteorological summer were instead left with plenty of storms and temperature swings. 

High pressure at the beginning of the month initially kept things quiet until squall lines and storms followed on the 2nd and 3rd with severe weather. This mainly occurred in eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. Some storms also caused quite a bit of localized flooding with excessive rain rates well over 1-2” per hour. In particular, parts of Route 1 in Edison, NJ, were briefly stuck with a foot of water! A cold front then swept in on the 5th along with a series of additional thunderstorms, knocking temperatures into the 70s and 80s. This left many parts of the region running around 5 degrees below normal. 

Street flooding in North Brunswick, NJ.

As high pressure set up shop over the Northeast heading into the first full week of the month, a boundary near the Mid-Atlantic had a few disturbances ride along it. One of these turned into a widespread rain event on the 7th, which was not too dissimilar from July’s nor’easter-like storm. Around 0.5-1.5” of rain fell across the region as a result. Rather calm weather then returned over the next few days with temperatures rebounding near normal. A warm front on the 11th did trigger a few severe storms in Maryland and northern Virginia.

Storms blossoming near Paris, Virginia.

More typical summer weather ensued into the middle month before a system rolling out of the Great Lakes arrived. This helped push warm and humid air back into the Northeast, leading to a stretch of above average temperatures, as highs climbed back into the 80s and 90s. The pattern then flipped as severe weather struck well ahead of a strong cold front on the 22nd. Storms along this cold front dealt a good deal of wind damage across the region.

The last two weeks of August featured temperatures that were 5 to 10 degrees below normal. Many locations did not even surpass the 80-degree mark for a period of time. While many eyes were focused on Hurricane Harvey in Texas, there really was not much in the way of any significant weather here in the Northeast. The lone exception was a tropical wave that failed to become an organized system off the Outer Banks. Much of the precipitation associated with this wave blew over Northeast on the 29th and brought several periods of rain.

Despite the perception of August as a rather hot month, temperatures averaged 0.5 to 1.5 degrees below normal this year. Although a stormy pattern did occur, most of the Northeast (outside of New England) received a surplus of rain. Parts of eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island ended nearly 2 inches below normal, helping to spark slight drought conditions heading into September. Hopefully, this isn’t a sign of things to come as we dive into Fall.