The seasons, they are indeed changing and Sunday, September 16th marked the last warm summer day in North Central Wisconsin. That's not to say there won't be milder times later in September or October, but the climatological odds of the mercury climbing into the 70s is fading fast. In addition to that, Autumn officially gets underway at 9:49am Saturday (9/22). Although this is the moment when the sun is located directly over the equator, that doesn't quite mean that we will experience an equal amount of daylight and darkness locally. In reality, it will take until the following Monday when the sunrise & sunset are just about 12 hours apart.
There has already been one widespread frost in the region, back on September 19th, and with another shot of chilly Canadian air expected to push down for the weekend, Sunday morning is looking favorable for frost, if not freeze conditions thanks to a clear sky and light winds. Having these chilly mornings is actually just about on par for when we begin to see frost impact much of the Wisconsin River Valley. Check out the map below and you'll notice that frost begins to make a appearance anywhere from the middle of September through early October.
It is true that most locations from highway 29 on south are a little ahead of schedule this season for the first frost. However, for many crops, which were affected by the early warm spell this past March and then the drought conditions from May into July, it has been a down year. It is instance too where some farmers are to the point of just having the growing season be done with as soon as possible.
Now the challenge begins as to when the first hints of winter type weather will return to our region...in this case I am alluding to those flakes of snow. I'm all for waiting until we get well into November or early December before having to even think about where I put the snow shovel, but depending on how the jet stream sets up in the weeks ahead, we may have some early sightings. The first possibility could be Friday night into Saturday morning as low pressure drives SE through Wisconsin, acting in tandem with a push of chillier air from the north. I would suspect what falls would be a mix of rain/snow showers and any accumulation would melt rather quickly Saturday morning. For the warmer weather fans, there is hope that the week ahead (Sept 24th-29th) will feature a return to seasonable highs in the mid to upper 60s, while overnight lows bottom out in the 40s.
As for those fall colors, the trees have been stressed by the drought, thus explaining the hints of yellow that starting popping up a couple weeks ago. Typically with a deficit in rainfall, the colors wouldn't necessarily be as brilliant in nature, say compared to last year when we had above average precipitation. The key to actually enjoying the various hues of yellow, orange, and red at their peak from early to mid October is to get out before the next hard frost or freeze takes place. Literally overnight we can go from all of those leaves being on the trees to dropping on the ground, meaning a whole lot more yard work for all of us, and of course the lost of those photographic scenes.
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