The Dog Days are Over

With the calendar showing mid-August, it appears safe to say that the hottest, most humid days of the summer season have come and gone locally.  Taking nothing away from the recent hit song by Florence + The Machine, which has the same title as this blog, in this case I am talking about the dog days of summer.  Unlike some other parts of the Midwest where 100 degree heat was a constant, including 40 days straight in Dallas, TX and 44+ days in a row in Waco, TX, Wisconsin did get some periodic relief.  This came in the form of weak cold fronts that touched off various rounds of showers and storms, while allowing afternoon readings to slip back into the 80s and 70s.

For those of you keeping score at home, Wausau did not officially have a heat wave since we fell one short of 3 consecutive days of 90+ temperatures in July.  Nevertheless, here is some background information on the term "dog days of summer".  According to the Glossary of Meteorology, this time of the year is associated with the rising of the Sirius star.  Legend says due to the loss of human energy and wilting of vegetation caused by the hot, sultry weather, it was believed that Sirius had an impact on humans.  This effect from the hot weather does seem to hold some truth since it makes us feel like we are moving in slow motion outside.  That is also why it is a good idea to cut back on exercising or working during the hottest part of the day to prevent overexertion. One big plus is that unlike in centuries past, we have air conditioning readily available.

Even though we are now starting a gradual downhill slide toward cooler weather in Wisconsin, there is another weather season that is primed to hit it's peak in the next several weeks.  Of course I am talking about hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.  Although this tropical storm season starts on June 1st, the highest frequency of these storms churning through the open waters is from late August through much of September.  The main reason for this is because this tends to be when ocean water temperatures are at their warmest, ranging from around 80 off the Carolina coast to the mid 80s to near 90 from the Gulf of Mexico out to the west African coast.  Along with the warm water being the primary factor for development, atmospheric wind direction and speed play a big role in allowing for tropical storms to grow into hurricanes. 

Last but not least, add to the equation that this year has been a La Nina weather pattern, and indications point to an active hurricane season ahead.  Thus far there have been 5 named storms in Atlantic (as of August 12th), and just one of those, Tropical Storm Don, made landfall along the SE Texas Coast.  This was a minimal tropical storm when it did hit, and sadly didn't provide a whole lot of rain for this drought stricken state.  No less, keep tabs on all that is to come through the National Hurricane Center.  The biggest question of all is if any hurricanes will bear down on the U.S. coast?  Only time will tell and you'll certainly hear plenty about it during our weathercasts before they strike.

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