Heat relief: Dramatic cooldown bringing taste of fall to East Coast

·5 min read

Residents up and down the East Coast have been no stranger to high heat and humidity in recent weeks. Coinciding with the dog days of summer, many have found the weather to be scorching or just downright miserable, but, AccuWeather meteorologists say, a refreshing change has arrived for some residents that is giving air conditioners a break.

A slow-moving cold front has been responsible for heavy rain and flooding in recent days across the Ohio Valley and Appalachians. This front is picking up some steam and will continue to dip southward across much of the region, ushering in a new weather pattern through the weekend.

For some areas, the cold front is bringing a taste of fall, which is a little over a month away.

"The first half of the week brought stifling heat and humidity to much of the Northeast, but the cold front will continue to progress toward the south and east on Wednesday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Carl Babinski said. "The cooldown this causes should start in the Midwest and New England but expand southward each day," he added.

Afternoon highs on Friday could be as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit lower compared to afternoon temperatures during the first half of the week. Unlike some cool stretches in the summer that fade rapidly, below-normal temperatures should remain in place through the week's end for many locations.

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Boston's six-day heat wave has finally come to an end after the city reached at least 95 F each day from Thursday, Aug. 4, through Tuesday, Aug. 9. During this stretch, the city set new daily record highs on four of the six days as temperatures fell just shy of triple digits.

Following the passage of the cold front in Boston, temperatures heading into the weekend will peak in the 70s, which are more typical of September. Wednesday's temperatures in the city were 26 degrees lower in the afternoon compared to Tuesday. The high on Wednesday was 72, compared to a high of 98 on three days in a row from Sunday to Tuesday. On Thursday, the high reached 78 degrees at the Boston Logan International Airport.

The sweltering start to the month made the first eight days in Boston the hottest start to August on record in the city.

Farther south in New York City, the cooling trend began on Wednesday. After surging to 97 F in Central Park on Tuesday, temperatures hovered in the mid-80s on Wednesday afternoon. Temperatures are likely to peak in the upper 70s to low 80s by this weekend.

Newark, New Jersey, notched its sixth 100-degree day of the summer on Tuesday. So far in 2022, Newark has experienced more days in the triple digits than any year since 1993 when nine were tallied.

The drop in temperature and humidity is expected to continue into the weekend across the Northeast, providing more comfortable weather for folks planning outdoor activities, doing yard work or attending outdoor weddings.

The mild afternoons will be followed up by cool overnight lows in the 50s and 60s across much of New England, the mid-Atlantic, Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley zones. However, the traditional chilly spots in the central and northern Appalachians are likely to have at least a couple of nights where temperatures dip into the 40s in true September fashion, despite the calendar that says August.

Some residents may elect to leave their windows open at night to let in the refreshing air rather than running air conditioners to keep indoor areas cool.

Temperatures will dip to their lowest levels in a month or more following the late-July and early-August swelter. Pittsburgh is likely to have its coolest night since around the middle of June with temperatures to dip into the lower 50s Friday night.

By late week and into the weekend, the cooldown will continue to press southward, reaching parts of the Southeast.

While not as dramatic as areas farther north, a cooldown is expected in cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina. After many hot and humid days in the 90s to start August, high temperatures should drop by 5 to 10 degrees by Saturday.

Not only will the air temperature take a tumble up and down the coast, but the humidity is also likely to take a nosedive.

A common way to measure this is the dew point temperature, a measure of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. Values in the mid- to upper 60s F or above are often considered humid, but these values have hovered in the 70s for much of the week so far. Dew point temperatures this high are often considered to be extreme and can send AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures well above 100 F.

"After dew points in the 60s and 70s as of late, significantly drier air will become normal, taking these numbers down into the 40s and 50s for many," Babinski explained.

These lower dew points will settle across most of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee by the start of the weekend, making it more comfortable to spend time outdoors.

The lower humidity could even reach Atlanta, giving residents a fleeting taste of autumn before the return of the summer heat and humidity.

As the pattern evolves, the potential for waterspouts to form will increase over the Great Lakes early next week. In this case, the cool air will pass over the warm waters of the lakes and lead to towering clouds and swirls of wind.

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