Friday is the final full day of a Carolinas summer that should be celebrated for what didnt happen, National Weather Service meteorologist John Tomko says.
We escaped what happened in the Midwest, says Tomko, climatologist at the Weather Services office in Greer, S.C. We avoided most of the heat and the drought.
Summer officially comes to an end at 10:49 a.m. Saturday with the autumnal equinox, and Tomko along with others who follow summer weather closely say it wasnt really that bad in the Carolinas.
While the Midwest and parts of the West baked through one of the hottest and driest summers on record, the Carolinas experienced plenty of rain and not much heat.
With one exception.
The end of June and beginning of July was tough, says Scott Ewers, horticulture agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension Services office in Mecklenburg County.
On three consecutive days, from June 29 through July 1, Charlotte equaled its all-time heat record with 104-degree readings. That was part of a stretch of searing heat that lasted through July 9 and helped make it the hottest July in Charlotte since 1993.
Otherwise, it was a relatively mild summer with more rainy days than we normally get.
Usually, its a little drier around here in the summer, Ewers says.
Last year, it rained on 36 of 92 days in June, July and August. This year, rain fell on 47 of those days. (Meteorologists consider June 1 through Aug. 31 as summer, saying those dates correspond more closely to typical summer weather.)
Dave Moore, part-owner of Charlotte National Golf Club in northwest Union County, says this summer provided a mix of challenge and opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts.
That stretch of hot weather at the end of June and beginning of July made it tough to be outdoors, he concedes. But otherwise, it was a good summer. For the most part, golfers didnt have to worry about scheduling early tee times to avoid the heat.
Ewers said the high number of days with rainfall created headaches for gardeners and homeowners trying to keep their lawns healthy.
I had a little more disease than usual, he said of his lawn. That was because of the moisture. It was the same story with gardens. Moist weather tends to help diseases thrive.
Actually, rainfall from June-August was about 3 1/2 inches below average at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. But small amounts fell on many days, especially in the afternoon and evening.
Of course, the rainfall put Charlotte in national headlines during the Democratic National Convention when it forced President Barack Obamas acceptance speech indoors.
The heat came mainly in July. Tomko says it was the coolest August in Charlotte since 2008 and the coolest June since 2006. Overall, meteorological summer in 2012 was the coolest in three years.
Molly Schroer, a spokeswoman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said the number of visitors in July was fairly strong.
Mountain tourism up
But when temperatures fell in August, visitations really picked up.
People felt like traveling, she says.
The park attracted 1.05 million visitors last month, up 5 percent from August 2011.
At another place where Carolinas residents go to escape the heat, Grandfather Mountain, this summer was a good season.
Actually, it was a bit slower than spring, because we had unusually mild weather early in the year, says Landis Wofford, director of communications at the North Carolina mountain. But it was a solid summer.