Just when the mild, glorious days of autumn seemed to be settling in across the Heartland, intense summer heat has returned to Missouri, courtesy of a high pressure dome across the central and southeastern U.S. Blocking the progress of Pacific and Canadian cold fronts, this dome of heat is especially oppressive in the lower Mississippi Valley, where humid air is streaming north from the Gulf of Mexico. As I write this post (at 7PM Central Time), it is still 86 degrees F in Columbia and the dew point hovers in the seventies; tonight's low is expected to be 71 degrees F.
While golds and purples paint the grasslands, flocks of migrant nighthawks fill the evening sky, blue-winged teal dodge their determined hunters and broad-winged hawks circle toward the tropics, the weather has set back the seasonal clock, bringing an unwelcome dose of summer to the beloved month of September. Snow may dust the western peaks and the annual aspen display should unfold within a week but here in the Missouri Valley, stifling heat has returned and autumn chill is but an unkept promise.
Indeed, we anticipate highs in the upper 80s throughout the week, with overnight lows in the sixties at best. No need to cover those tender plants! Summer is reluctant to leave and some of us are not thrilled with its extended reign; I suppose we better get used to long, hot summers as September becomes the new August.