Welcome to autumn! Here’s what it should feel like in the Brazos Valley

Fall is coming in hot!
Welcome to fall!
Welcome to fall!(KBTX)
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 1:59 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 2:11 PM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - Set an alarm for 8:04 p.m. Sunset has arrived for summer. Porches are filling up with pumpkins. Thursday marks the autumnal equinox and the official changing of seasons. Grab a pumpkin spice latte as we dive into all things fall...

WHAT IS AN EQUINOX

On the day of an equinox, the earth is tilting neither toward nor away from the sun. According to the National Weather Service, the planet “receives almost an equal amount of daylight and darkness.” At the equator, the sun is directly overhead at the noon hour. Days are slightly longer in higher latitudes. The North Pole will experience about 12 hours and 16 minutes of daylight. The Brazos Valley will experience 12 hours and 8 minutes of light as the sun moves from horizon to horizon. This is a full two hours longer than the amount of light the first day of winter provides.

NEAR RECORD START TO THE SEASON

Summer 2022 tied 2011 as the all-time hottest in Bryan-College Station’s 140 years of record keeping. The final hours of the season are going to squeeze out every last drop that it can.

Thursday is expected to bring the first triple-digit highs back to parts of the Brazos Valley since mid-to-late August. Rivaling a similar heat wave in late September 2005, most afternoon highs will come within a few degrees of records in the very last hours of the summer season.

A stubborn, overbearing high pressure system will continue to compress the air over Texas through the start of the weekend. Temperatures are forecast to run 5° to 12° above average through Monday. Fresh fall feels are not far off! A cold front ushering in drier air will allow morning lows to fall to the 50s and 60s early in the final week of September. Afternoon highs will still reach the 90° mark, but about 10° “cooler” and as a much “drier” heat.

WHAT DOES A “TYPICAL” FALL LOOK LIKE FOR THE BRAZOS VALLEY?

Based on the last 30 years of weather, the first day of fall should generally start with sunrise temperatures just shy of 70°. By afternoon, thermometers are expected to pause right at the 90° mark. (Remember, this is Texas. We are not talking cozy sweaters and crisp air just yet...)

MONTHAVERAGE LOW TEMPERATUREAVERAGE HIGH TEMPERATURECOLDEST TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDEDHOTTEST TEMPERATURE EVER RECORDEDHIGHEST 1-DAY RAIN TOTAL EVER RECORDED
September70.0°91.2°41° - September 19, 1901112° - September 4, 20007.84″ - September 4, 1889
October60.2°81.9°29° - October 30, 1917 & 31, 1993102° - October 2, 193813.39″ - October 16, 1994
November49.8°71.1°19° - November 29, 197694° - November 14, 19215.56″ - November 19, 1907

WHAT IS EXPECTED FOR FALL 2022?

This year brings a rare “triple dip” La Niña as the water over the Equatorial Pacific remains cooler than average. Climatologists and forecasters at NOAA have increased odds to more than 90% for a three-peat, hat trick through the winter months.

While cooler weather and cold snaps will occur, the overall theme of the fall season is expected to be warmer and drier than average in a La Niña pattern. This also means higher times of humidity that could lead to an increased occurrence of severe weather when a cold front does manage to reach Texas and the Brazos Valley.

Climate Prediction Center's outlook for temperatures October - December
Climate Prediction Center's outlook for temperatures October - December(KBTX)

The Climate Prediction Center’s Seasonal Temperature Outlook calls for much of the Lower 48 to experience warmer-than-average temperatures through the three-month period of October, November, and December. The forecast for the Brazos Valley places a 50% to 60% chance for this warmer fall.

Climate Prediction Center's outlook for precipitation October - December
Climate Prediction Center's outlook for precipitation October - December(KBTX)

The Central and Southern United States is expected to undergo a drier-than-average fall season. Typically, the largest rain-producing month in the Brazos Valley is October. 2022 may bring another year of disappointing fall precipitation. There is a 40% to 50% chance of the three-month rainfall falling short of the expected near 12″ that typically closes out the calendar year.

FALL IS GETTING WARMER

In a world where man-made climate change has warmed the planet, all four seasons are warming, too. Out of 245 cities analyzed by Climate Central, 97% have seen the average temperature warm over the past 50 years. 139 of those cities have experienced an increase by 2% or more, including Bryan-College Station. Since 1970, the Brazos Valley’s fall season has warmed by an average of 3.5°.

On average, Bryan-College Station's fall season has warmed by more than 3° over the past 50 years
On average, Bryan-College Station's fall season has warmed by more than 3° over the past 50 years(Climate Central)

The greatest warming has occurred at locations in Nevada, Texas, and Arizona. Warmer fall temperatures raise the risk of heat-related illness and insect-borne diseases, prolong allergy season, and contribute to poor air quality. When air conditioners are run later in the year to adapt, energy costs and heat-trapping emissions increase. If nothing else, it continually makes fall and the Halloween season feel less like pumpkin spice.