The past month has been one of very noticeable temperature extremes, with nighttime and day time temperatures being more extreme than average. Of course, the excess heat is what gets people talking, and justifiably so. This month we set more record high temperatures, both locally and around the globe. The past month ran about ten degrees above the average high for Winston-Salem, with the nighttime temperatures occasionally dipping under the average low of 53 degrees. October 20th was particularly significant, breaking the 1938 record of 86 with a scorching 88 degrees. While it might not feel right to be carving pumpkins or shopping for Halloween costumes in flip flops, us North Carolinians should consider ourselves lucky. Temperatures in Arizona have also been record setting, with a good portion of the month being at 90 degrees or higher.
While these temperatures are unusual and even a little unsettling, September broke the streak of monthly average record high temperatures. While it was still above the 20th century average, last September was slightly cooler than the year before. It will be interesting to see where October falls in this fluctuation of records set.
Though it is unclear how this will affect our weather long term or our chances of having a white Christmas, we will keep an eye on the trends and learn to adapt with hardier plant selections. Even varieties of Bermudagrass are being developed that require less water and are more winter hardy, making them a more sustainable selection for our area. TifTuf Bermudagrass is a new selection of sod that tolerates foot traffic and keeps color longer, making it suitable for athletic fields and residential applications. Though it may be departing from the more traditional fescue, it may be the case in the future that we have to opt out for more tolerant species and varieties. For more information, please see our references below: