By Earth Networks Meteorologist Alyssa Robinette
While the calendar is slowly trending towards fall, potent storms and drenching rain will make it feel more like summer across parts of the U.S. today.
A potent low pressure system will move out of the Great Lakes and into Canada today, dragging a cold front across the Ohio Valley and Northeast. The boundary of warm, humid air ahead of the front and colder, drier air behind it will be the catalyst for severe thunderstorm development this afternoon and evening. The main threats with thunderstorms today will be damaging winds and large hail. However, a couple of tornadoes cannot be ruled out.
The bullseye for severe weather will be found across northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania, and western New York, where the Storm Prediction Center has issued an Enhanced Risk. Cities most at risk are Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, Erie, Pa., Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y.
The rest of the Ohio Valley into the Northeast will also need to keep an eye on darkening skies. This includes Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, Pittsburgh, State College, Scranton, Pa., Syracuse and Utica, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt.
On the southern end of this cold front, an abundant supply of moisture will be drawn into the southern Plains today. Rainfall amounts could reach 3 to 5 inches across northern Texas, much of Oklahoma, and northern Arkansas. This much rain in a short amount of time will likely trigger flash flooding.
Flash Flood Watches are in place across northern Texas, central and southern Oklahoma, and northwestern Arkansas. Dallas, Wichita Falls, and Abilene, Texas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., Fayetteville, and Little Rock, Ark., are all included in these watches.
By Saturday and Sunday, this cold front will become stalled from the Mid-Atlantic to the southern Plains. This will continue to transport a significant amount of moisture to the Mid-Atlantic, Tennessee Valley, Lower Mississippi Valley, and southern Plains. The result will be 1 to 3 inches of rain to already rain-soaked locations, possibly triggering flooding.
Be sure to understand the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that severe weather is possible in the watch area while a warning means that severe weather has been spotted and the warned area to seek safety.
Remember that when you hear thunder, move indoors. Even if the sun is shining you are still close enough to be struck by lightning.
Also remember to heed warnings and do not cross roads that are flooded as the water could be deeper than you think. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.” Swiftly moving water 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet, while 1 to 2 feet of water will carry away most automobiles.
By Earth Networks Meteorologist Andrew Rosenthal
Astronomically, the first day of fall is September 22, when the sun`s perpendicular rays cross the equator. Each day is getting shorter, and this causes a chemical reaction in the leaves that leads to the color changing. As days become cooler and shorter, the trees ability to make chlorophyll, a pigment that keeps the leaves green, decreases and causes the leaves to become red, orange and purple.
A touch of cooler weather has allowed portions of Minnesota to get going on foliage season. The state parks along and east of the Red River Valley are starting to see some nice colors, with oranges and yellows showing up on the shores of many of the state’s lakes. Other areas of northern Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are starting to get light foliage.
If you’re making a trip this week to see the foliage, consider taking Interstate 29 through extreme eastern South Dakota and North Dakota. Interstate 94 from the Twin Cities is also a good bet, and from there you can pick up smaller roads, such as U.S. Route 2 toward Duluth, Minn., and U.S. Routes 10 and 12, that will allow you to get up close and personal with the best color. So far, some of the most picturesque scenes have come in along the various shorelines, so a walk or a boat ride might be in order too!
In the East, warm and humid weather has kept the season at bay. Fortunately, Hurricane Florence didn’t do too much damage to the foliage in northern New England, as it made a quick pass through the region. However, the weather pattern remains stuck on “warm” for now, so changes aren’t coming along too quickly.
Where do you need to go to see the best colors? Look up! Higher elevations of the Adirondacks, Green and White Mountains are starting to change. This can be reached by taking the main highways of the region – Interstates 87, 89, 91 and 93, and then use the region’s smaller roads to create yourself a nice little loop.
For the northern tier, the weather will be pretty good for the first weekend of fall. Canadian high pressure will be in place, producing seasonable temperatures and plenty of sunshine from the Great Lakes to New England. The end of the weekend could see a bit of the warm weather returning to Minnesota, as southerly winds kick back into high gear to return highs to the 70s and 80s.
Over the course of the autumn, our meteorologists will provide an outlook on the foliage conditions across the eastern two-thirds of the U.S. This will include an updated map of conditions and details of these great colors. We will also give some suggestions of roads to take for a leaf-peeping road trip, and a forecast for the weekend so you can know what to expect as you visit the colors.