Noticeable fall chill in the air for 1st weekend of autumn

·3 min read

With summer officially in the rearview mirror, fall is setting up shop across the Great Lakes and Northeast, bringing brisk nights and less humid weather as temperatures take a tumble.

A cold front traveled through the Northeast last week, bringing heavy rain and high winds. Gusty winds brought down trees and power lines, causing power outages across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland on Thursday. Places like Mount Airy, North Carolina, and Glade Creek, Virginia, received over 8 inches of rainfall on Wednesday, while a pocket of 5 inches of rain fell across parts of Pennsylvania throughout the week.

The cold front brought dramatic temperature drops to places like Erie, Pennsylvania, where the temperature peaked at 81 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday then only hit 63 F on Thursday. Highs there are usually in the lower 70s this time of year. Similarly, Pittsburgh had a high well above average at 82 F on Wednesday then temperatures plummeted to 60 F on Thursday.

"The first surge of cool, crisp air has rushed into the Northeast behind a slow-moving cold front, just in time for the first week of autumn," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Adam Sadvary.

As the cold front continued eastward, heavy and gusty thunderstorms also rolled through New England on Saturday but with less intense rainfall than was experienced across much of the Northeast this past week.

New York City recorded a high temperature of 79 F on Thursday. In the wake of the first cold front, temperatures hovered near seasonable levels, in the lower 70s, during Friday afternoon. However, another cold front is in store for the East, and it could prevent temperatures from fully recovering.

"A secondary cold front will move through on Sunday with a chance of showers and rain in the Northeast," said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

This second cold front is expected to send temperatures tumbling again across the East. Columbus, Ohio, is expected to have high temperatures near 70 on Sunday.

Average temperatures this time of year for Columbus are in the middle 70s. Elsewhere, there can even be widespread highs in the 60s, or 5 to 10 degrees below normal.

"For many in the Midwest, Northeast and mid-Atlantic, this will lead to comfortably cool afternoons with sunny skies as high pressure builds across the Eastern U.S.," said Sadvary.

"The forecast across this region provides an excellent opportunity for folks to get outside and enjoy fall activities on Sunday while the days still aren't too cool," Sadvary added.

Nighttime will be particularly cool as well, with temperatures falling several degrees below normal. On Friday night, temperatures in the Philadelphia area reached into the chilly middle to upper 50s.

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Clear nighttime skies and light wind are key ingredients for what's known as radiational cooling, according to Sadvary. Radiational cooling is when heat radiated from the surface of the Earth is able to escape the atmosphere under these conditions, allowing temperatures to fall dramatically for inland locations.

Some residents might be tempted to enjoy a toasty bonfire, go camping or open the windows at night as cool, comfortable air engulfs the region.

Despite the relatively fair weather, this shift in temperatures can produce a phenomenon in the Great Lakes that can sometimes be dangerous: waterspouts. A waterspout is a vortex of air that can sometimes be strong and is very similar to a tornado.

"These waterspouts form when a large difference in temperature, also known as a gradient, forms between the warm waters of the Great Lakes and the cool air above the water surface," said Sadvary. Waterspouts that form this way are generally brief and weak and are quite common this time of year, especially in northern Michigan.

Officials are also warning swimmers of the high risk of rip currents both along the Great Lakes and along the Atlantic coast.

The cooler conditions are anticipated to stick around as well. Temperatures in places like Syrcause, New York, are forecast to remain in the middle to upper 60s throughout most of the week, just below average.

"The fall weather has landed and will be present through this week," said Pastelok.

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