Fall Arrives with Improving Drought Conditions in the Northeast

October 7, 2022 // Article by: Steven Weinstein

September and the beginning of meteorological fall began on a continued hot and humid, but quieter note from a precipitation standpoint. While the loss of peak summertime heating and shorter days began to prohibit severe weather some, many flash flooding events still occurred across New England and parts of the Mid-Atlantic. More fall-like conditions and seasonable temperatures also began to settle in during the middle-latter part of the month as all regions got their first taste of fall. Additionally, weather systems were sporadically spread through the month and provided extremely beneficial rains across much of the East Coast footprint, but especially to parts of New England. However, unlike August, these beneficial rains even fell across much of New England, which helped to ease the severe to extreme drought conditions from the beginning of the month. Furthermore, while the tropical season finally ramped up, systems such as Hurricane Earl and Fiona stayed well offshore, only leading to increased rip currents across the coastal regions.

High pressure dominated across the East Coast during the first few days of the month which led to quiet weather, but allowed hot and humid conditions to persist. Multiple daily record high temperatures were set from portions of VA and MD all the way up into CT, especially on the 1st and 4th which reached the upper 80s, with highs further south eclipsing 90 degrees. A system then moved into the region on the 5th, quickly stalling out over parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, which made for a rather wet and soggy Labor Day. This unsettled weather also continued into the 6th as well, and areas hardest hit by the heavy rainfall included parts of CT and RI where locally 7-9” fell near Providence, RI, shattering daily rainfall records! While the heaviest swath of rainfall missed TF Green airport in Providence (where only 2.19" of rainfall fell), it was still enough for the 3rd wettest Labor Day on record, whereas in Hartford, CT it was the 2nd wettest Labor Day. Nevertheless, both locations broke their daily rainfall records and the excessive rainfall produced numerous instances of flash flooding. Additionally, heavy rainfall was also notable across portions of the Mid-Atlantic from Central MD, Southeast PA, and into southern NJ where 2-4”+ was recorded.

Record precipitation and flooding across parts of New England on Labor Day. Source: NWS Boston

After this system finally exited, quieter conditions generally settled in before the next disturbance brought more widespread beneficial rains to much of the East Coast on the 11th, 12th, and 13th. This system produced isolated wind reports and bouts of tree / powerline damage across parts of the Mid-Atlantic and especially VA, but also created some instances of flooding, particularly across northern NJ, Long Island, and southern CT where pockets of 2”+ fell. Severe weather and scattered wind damage also occurred the following day across portions of interior New England, before the passage of a cold front ushered in more seasonable air and lower humidity, giving areas across New England their first taste of fall.

Multiple rain producers also continued during the latter part of the month, mainly across northern NJ and parts of New England, further improving the drought conditions. However, most notable of these systems was a potent cold front which resulted in a morning round of rain on the 22nd that brought 0.5-1” of rainfall from New Jersey into New England, though southeast Massachusetts and Rhode Island also saw even higher totals on the order of 1-2”+. Additionally, this cold front and the arrival of the autumnal equinox finally brought cooler temperatures to the entire East Coast footprint, as more fall-like weather arrived. In association with this cooler airmass, daily record lows in the mid 40s to around 50 degrees were set on the 24th across most areas. The last substantial weather maker for the month then occurred on the 25th,which produced a swath of 1-2”+ of rain across parts of northern NJ and Long Island, as well as scattered wind damage reports, especially across Long Island and VA. An EF-0 tornado was also confirmed in Mattituck, NY with this activity and was on the ground for 2.1 miles, reaching max winds of 85 mph. This caused some downed limbs/trees and minor structural damage across the area. A quieter and cooler weather pattern then rounded out the month before the remnants of what was once Hurricane Ian approached from the south, producing heavy rainfall and some flooding across Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region on the 30th

Tweet confirming an EF-0 tornado that touched down in Mattituck, NY during the evening of September 25th, 2022. 

Overall, the month finished right around normal for high and low temperatures, and there were areas that finished out above and below normal with regards to monthly precip. However, the script flipped from August in that the above normal precipitation was now especially notable across portions of New England, the Hudson Valley, and in northeast PA / the Poconos, where amounts generally finished 1-2” above the normal, though some areas in CT even finished 3”+ above normal for the month! Meanwhile, it was drier across parts of the Mid-Atlantic, MD, and VA which actually finished the month slightly below normal for rainfall, as 30-day anomalies were generally on the order of 0.5-2” below average. Many areas across NJ and southeast PA also finished the month with a slight rainfall deficit; nevertheless, there was still enough beneficial rain to rejuvenate the previously dead vegetation.