High temperatures make start of fall feel like summer

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The outdoor pool at the Troy Parks and Recreation Center has traditionally closed on the first of October each year.

But as Director Dan Smith looked out his office window Tuesday morning, there were already several people out enjoying the pool as summer temperatures linger into the fall.

“Business is booming,” Smith said, laughing. “We’re still open for now because of the 95 degree temperatures. Typically, temperatures are below 85 degrees by now and the pool really cools at nighttime, so the water temperature might be 70 degrees even though it’s 85 out during the day.”

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But with temperatures still in the mid-90s over the past several days, breaking daily heat records multiple times, Smith said the water has maintained a consistent 87 degrees. “That is perfect for outdoor swimming.”

So the pool is staying up for now, until the temperatures catch up with the changing of the seasons and dip below 85-degree highs.

Jim Westland, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Birmingham, said the record heat has been primarily caused by two factors: “an unusually large upper-level high pressure system that has parked itself over the Southeastern United States, and the lack of of rain.”

Westland said the dry ground warms faster, and that heat transfers back into the air.

The drought and heat have cause concerns statewide about wildfires, and Pike County has seen an increase in brush fires in recent weeks.

“There are currently 23 active wildfires in the state,” said County Forester Drew Metzler Tuesday. “No, wait – we’re up to 28 now. I just refreshed the page.”

Metzler said firefighters in Pike County have recently fought fire of up to 25 acres that did considerable damage and he just worked another small fire Monday.

The Alabama Forestry Commission is currently not issuing permits to burn except to highly-certified applicants. While there is not a burn ban in place and county residents outside city limits can still burn up to a quarter-acre without a permit, Metzler advised against any unnecessary outdoor burning.

“Most of these brush fires are caused by people, intentionally or unintentionally,” Metzler said. “Whether it’s cigarettes or just a spark off of a vehicle, that’s all it takes to get a fire going. I would encourage anybody if they can avoid burning now to put it off anyway they can.”

A statewide burn ban has not been issued since the fall of 2016, but continued heat and drought have the state dangerously close to implementing a ban again until enough rain comes to bring relief.

The high temperatures will last through the week, but Westland said fall weather could be just around the corner.

“By Sunday into early next week, we will finally start to see highs below 90,” Westland said. “Perhaps there’s a little light at the end of the tunnel. Looking at the computer model predictions, it looks like the weather patterns are trying to break down that big high, so we’re cautiously optimistic the record heat will soon abate.”