Taking in early-morning cool temperatures, fifth-graders from Christ the King School made a field trip Friday to the nearby lake known as the Duck Pond Park in Buckhead. Though the water fowl proved to be a distraction, the students’ science lessons focused on ecosystems while their social studies lesson looked at Lewis and Clark. Fall officially begins Saturday. JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fall is about to begin, but Atlanta weather still stuck in summer

What’s going on, Mother Nature?

Metro Atlanta is experiencing prolonged high temperatures, right ahead of the official start of fall.

And that bugs Iris Rafi, a former Spelman College professor who now works part time in a library in Alpharetta.

“I’ve been ready for fall since May,” said Rafi. “It’s hot and I don’t like heat. I grew up in Miami, so if I wanted heat, I would have stayed there. Fall to me means football, crisp air and beautifully colored leaves.”

Rafi said it feels like it’s hotter than it was at certain times this summer, and she’s right.

According to Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Karen Minton, it was 89 degrees on the first day of fall in 2017 and 2016.

Her forecast for this year is 90 degrees.

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“The average lows and highs change with the season,” Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said. “At the hottest point in the summer, our average high is 89 degrees.”

Atlanta has exceeded that every day this week, he said, hitting 94 degrees on Wednesday. Temperatures are expected to reach the low 90s through the weekend before dropping to the mid-80s by the middle of next week.

That’s still above the average temperature of 81 degrees for the last week of summer.

“Bottom line: It’s hot,” Nitz said. “It’s going to stay hot. We’ve got a lot of sunshine.”

A ridge of strong high pressure is to blame for the heat. The ridge sits over much of the eastern half of the U.S., causing air to sink to the surface and eliminating clouds. Those conditions are not conducive to showers and thunderstorms, Nitz said.

Rain chances stay below 10 percent through the weekend before increasing through the beginning of next week. Wednesday has a 40 percent chance of scattered rain, according to the latest forecast from Channel 2 Action News.

To end the month, Nitz expects below-average temperatures. Cooler weather should begin to work its way into metro Atlanta by the first week of October, he said.

Rafi used to walk in the mornings, but it’s been so hot, she’s had to change her routine to early evening “and then it’s starting to get dark.”

For some, though, it means more pool and gardening time.

“I love it,” said Dan Moore Sr., founder and president of the APEX Museum on Auburn Avenue. “I’ve always survived better in hot weather. It’s one of the main reasons I moved here from Philadelphia. This is right up my alley. I can take it all year long.”

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Danny Flanders, a spokesman for the Atlanta Botanical Garden, is also unbothered by the heat.

“I think most visitors to public gardens pretty much expect it to be hot, especially the repeat visitors, so many of them opt to come in the mornings when it’s a bit cooler,” he said. “But the first-time visitors don’t seem too put off by the heat, regardless of the time of day, because they’re here on a mission to see what we’re offering at the moment, which this summer is our exhibition of giant plant sculptures, ‘Imaginary Worlds.’ They also discover that they can cool off indoors in our Conservatory and Orchid Center, if need be.

“The plants, of course, love the heat, especially all the tropical annuals, which just think they’re growing in Miami instead of Atlanta. They have required lots and lots of extra watering by staff, as only parts of the garden have irrigation, so we could really use some rain.”

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It’s not all good news, though.

The warmer temperatures can mean more pests, said John Ely, owner of ProCare Pest Services in Marietta.

The longer it stays warm, he said, the longer and faster the reproduction cycle of certain pests like mosquitoes.

That means more eggs. More larvae.

“At 80 degrees, we start seeing mosquitoes, consistently,” he said.

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You’re also likely to see other bugs, which Ely said go dormant, die or go find shelter when the weather cools down.

That also means you may see more bugs and insects in the spring, because they reproduced more.

“It’s good for the bug business for sure,” he said. Personally, though, he prefers a longer spring and fall with temperatures in the 70s or 80s.

“I just like to spend the time outside with my family,” he said, “and that weather is perfect.”

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