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Weird forecast: Summer at last, with a sudden switch to autumn

The typical mid-August lazy, hazy days of summer will be replaced by a head-spinning turn of events over the next week that could bring more flooding threats to the Charlotte region, meteorologists say.

Forecasters say the next six or seven days could bring:

• Summer, in the form of hot weather Tuesday.

• Severe weather, with heavy storms possible later Tuesday.

• A taste of fall, with much cooler conditions Wednesday and Thursday, when high temperatures might not escape the 70s.

• The possible development of a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico – a system which some computer models predict could bring heavy rain this weekend to the Carolinas.

“This could be quite a week,” said Doug Outlaw of the National Weather Service’s office in Greer, S.C.

The temperature reached the 90-degree mark Monday in Charlotte for the fourth straight day. In a typical summer, such a streak of 90-degree days would be ordinary, but it marked a first for Charlotte in the summer of 2013.

“The number of 90-degree days is far below average, due mostly to the clouds and rainy weather,” said John Tomko, also of the Weather Service’s office in Greer.

The heat wave will be short-lived, however. A cold front is forecast to approach the Carolinas from the north Tuesday, possibly setting off a round of severe thunderstorms. High temperatures Tuesday could approach 90 degrees before the storms arrive.

Foretaste of fall

The cold front’s passage will set the stage for a couple of days of unusual weather. If the forecast pans out, the Charlotte area’s swimming pools could be largely deserted later in the week.

“It looks like we’ll get into a cool east-northeast flow, a condition we call cold-air damming,” Outlaw said. “Highs will be only in the 70s. Morning lows will be in the low to mid-60s. It will be quite a change.”

Outlaw said high pressure building southward from Canada will deliver the cool air, which he said will be accompanied by a low overcast.

He said the cold front is expected to stall across the South Carolina Midlands, and waves of low pressure are predicted to move eastward along the front. Those waves could bring periods of rain to the Charlotte region, especially from Thursday afternoon into Friday morning.

Tropical question mark

Of bigger concern is the possible development of a tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico.

Outlaw said two computer models predict such a development, and the often-reliable Global model forecasts the tropical system will make landfall on the Florida panhandle and then move northward, bringing heavy rain into the Carolinas.

“There is the potential for quite a bit of rain Friday into the weekend,” he said. “When you consider the wet soil and heavy rain we’ve already received, that could be bad news.”

Outlaw said not all computer models predict a tropical system, however. “So there is still uncertainty about what will happen,” he added.

A very slow climb in temperatures is expected by later in the weekend, with afternoon highs finally nosing above 80 degrees by Saturday or Sunday. A return to more normal summer conditions is predicted for next week.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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