We've just finished a week of weather that seemed out of place in October; three days and nearly a fourth of record highs close to 90º, high dew points and 10 straight days of no rain. It was as though we had gone back in time to early September.
But this being October, such a run of warmth won't last for too long before fall muscles its way back in. This latest change happened in dramatic fashion as a classic mid-latitude cyclone brought heavy rain, storms and wind to a large section of the country, and an abrupt shift in our weather fortunes.
Columbus picked up 4.36" of rain on Tuesday in a matter of 10-11 hours (my total; the automated gauge at the airport came in at 3.91"). Other recorded amounts were even higher: around 4.7" in Smiths Station and 4.8" in a part of northern Marion County. That nearly doubled our average of 2.58" for the entire month of October, which happens to be on average our driest month of the year. The rainfall was widespread across the area, as shown on the map of doppler radar estimated rainfall.
This is a very energetic and massive weather system with a classic, textbook look (water vapor image is from Tuesday morning): a deep surface low, an array of fronts separating greatly different air masses, and an upper air system temporarily cut off from the jet stream. The intensity of the surface low was very efficient at providing a strong fetch of moisture from the Gulf into the system, thus the corridor of heavy rain amounts across most of the Gulf region. The rain ended for us when a cold front passed in the afternoon, ending the showers and bringing a gradual but steady surge of cooler air with less moisture.
Ahead for us is a stretch of some terrific fall weather. Lows will remain in the 50s, upper 40s possible in some spots Thursday and Friday mornings. Highs will be in the 70s, then warm up to near 80 by Friday and over the weekend, which would be just slightly above normal. No major weather systems would appear to be on the way for at least a week, as several weak fronts will reinforce the high pressure regime over much of the eastern U.S. and Gulf Coast.
Enjoy the next few days; we've waited quite a while for weather like this!