Though North Carolina Preparedness Month was in September, it’s never too late (or too early) to think about safety in the face of a natural disaster. Despite our cooling temperatures, we still have over a month left of hurricane season which doesn’t end until November 30th. North Carolina does have a history of being impacted by hurricanes in October, so it’s best to keep disaster kits and emergency plans at the ready. Visit Ready Forsyth for more tips on disaster preparedness.
Regardless of the fact that the season is not yet over, we’ve seen an immensely active season so far this year. The frequency and intensity of storms has been propelled by warm ocean temperatures and a lack of wind shear that can be destructive to a developing hurricane. This September was also the 4th warmest September on record and ocean temperatures also placed 4th warmest on record, contributing to our unusual season. Hurricane Ophelia was a record-setting storm that pushed farther northeast (to Ireland and the UK) than any other hurricane. The pattern was so odd that the National Hurricane Center never thought an Atlantic hurricane would track so far.
Hurricane Irma ranks as the most deadly and destructive hurricane so far this season, with Harvey and Maria not far behind. For Winston-Salem, these storms did contribute to higher than average rainfall, but this was welcome after our drier than average July. We’ve seen 15 named storms and 5 major hurricanes so far this season, pushing the upward range of predictions for this year as well as being higher than average for an active season. However, it is still predicted that we will see at least one more named, damaging storm.
In regards to temperatures, so far 2017 is stacking up to be the second warmest year on record, but check back to see if that becomes official!
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:
Here are some holiday events happening around town, each guaranteed to bring a little holiday cheer.
Take a Tour at the Reynolda House:
Reynolda house is offering A 1917 Christmas Day tours which include typical Christmas customs of the era and carols played on an Aeolian organ. Tours are $15 for members and students and $20 for non-members. Tour will be running until December 22nd.
Visit Old Salem:
Old Salem will be featuring historical Christmas traditions with both self-guided tours and their Christmas by Candlelight tours December 17th and 18th.
The Festival of Lights:
The Festival of Lights at Tanglewood Park will be running nightly through January 3rd. This is a delightful drive through the park accented with over 100 light displays.
UNC School of the Arts will be presenting the Nutcracker at the Stevens Center from December 12th to the 20th. The ballet is accompanied by a student symphony orchestra and guest principle dancers.
Winston-Salem Holiday Parade:
This parade will take place on December 5th and will start at 5PM on Fourth Street. The parade will conclude in a tree lighting celebration.
There are also many holiday events just outside of town. A quick Google search on Pilot Mountain Christmas, Bryson City’s Polar Express, the Country Christmas Train in Denton, and the Speedway Lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway will quickly yield plenty of holiday activities to keep any family in the spirit!