Drought-like conditions will have an effect on the color of leaves this fall.
Photo: Jarrod Thrush
Photo: Jarrod Thrush

Dayton expects first 90-degree October day in more than a century

A heat wave will continue today in the Dayton area as the expected temperature reaches 90 for the first time in October in more than a century.

The stretch of 90-degree temperatures began Friday and is forecast to last through Wednesday before a cold front pushes through the Dayton area on Thursday.

Saturday’s 91 degrees tied the 1905 record for hottest on that date and other records could be reached today and Wednesday if heat conditions persist, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones.

“Weather in general is cyclical. There are times that you can have these anomalies that happen,” Jones said. “If this were to happen for the last 10 years around this time, sure there may be something going on. This is the first time we’ve seen this in a long time.”

«RELATED: Area trees, crops struggle as drought conditions continue

At least three area schools dismissed early Monday, including Preble Shawnee Local Schools, Greenon Local Schools and Southeastern Local Schools. Southeastern and Preble Shawnee will both dismiss early today as well.

Mornings aren’t so bad, but buildings start to heat up around 1, when early dismissal begins, said David Shea, superintendent of Southeastern.

“It’s a little surprising that we are dealing with this issue in October,” Shea said. “It’s not something we have really had to deal with before.”

The last time there was a 90-degree day in October was 1900. There have only been been 10 days in October that reached 90 degrees since the National Weather Service began tracking data in the 1890s. All 10 days stretched between 1897 and 1900, according to National Weather Service data examined by the Dayton Daily News.

The heat this late in the season is compounding with the months-long drought to cause some trees to drop leaves early and others to delay the turn to fall colors, said Tyler Stevenson, a forester with Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The leaves on some landscape trees that are significantly stressed by drought conditions are browning and falling off, but for the leaves that aren’t dying, the turn will take longer, Stevenson said. While urban trees will struggle, forest and park trees will still turn later this year.

Normally the leaves begin the transition in mid October. This year it may not begin until much later in the month or November.

“Mild drought is good for the bright reds and purples, but when you get too much more of a lack of rain, it definitely affects those colors not being as bright,” Stevenson said. “Those reds won’t pop as much if the drought continues.”

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The colors will specifically be impacted in urban areas with landscape trees and trees on the edge of forests that get more sun and have more compacted soil from foot traffic or parking beneath them. Those trees have bigger issues gathering water during drought conditions than the untouched soil in forests that is more like a sponge, he said.

“You’ll find fall color this year. You’re just going to have to go look for it,” Stevenson said.

Miami Valley homeowners with trees should give them some water, especially trees that were planted in the last several years and are still trying to get established, Stevenson said. Trees also shouldn’t have turf or mulch straight up to the trunk. Mulch is good for holding in moisture, but it should be 2 to 3 inches from the base.

Trees could get some relief Thursday when a a cold front flows into the Miami Valley, dropping the high to 69 by Friday, bringing what Jones said he expects the end to 90-degree days for 2019. But the light showers won’t make up for the drought’s six to eight inch precipitation deficit.

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The start to October is expected to approach several records, including in 1897, a year that also faced severe drought conditions in September. The Oct. 1 record reached 93 degrees that year, which today’s 92-degree forecast could contend with. Wednesday’s 90-degree forecast could tie the record for that day set in 1900.

Usually around this time temperatures hover in the 70s. People taking advantage of outdoor activities need to take into account summer rules during the start of this week, Jones said.

“Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees but the elderly and the very young are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses. Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if not treated,” said Brian Springer, an emergency medicine physician at Kettering Medical Center.

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