HUNTINGTON — After 38 days, a statewide emergency declaration, and the start of one of the hottest Octobers on record, one of the region’s most brutal droughts ever is emphatically over.
More than 2 ¾ inches of rain fell in Huntington between Saturday and Monday afternoon, snapping a six-week dry spell stretching back to Aug. 28, according to the National Weather Service in Charleston. On Monday alone, 1.9 inches of rain fell on Huntington — a record for any Oct. 7 in the city.
The drought created one of the driest Septembers on record, with only 0.01 inches of precipitation falling during brief, spotty showers that month.
It also sparked the two single-hottest October days ever recorded in Huntington, NWS meteorologist Ray Young explained Monday. Both Oct. 1 and Oct. 3 saw afternoon high temperatures peak at 95 degrees — a new record for October in Huntington.
Steady rain and a welcome cold front greeted the entire Tri-State this week. Lake Vesuvius in Lawrence County recorded 2.63 inches of rain between Saturday and Monday, and just over 2 inches of rain was recorded in Cannonsburg, Kentucky. The most rain fell locally on Louisa, Kentucky, which received 3 inches during that time.
While August and September typically are the region’s driest months of the year, particularly high pressure stagnating over the region created the perfect conditions for an extended drought, Young explained. The high pressure system lingered, preventing moisture from moving in and setting the conditions for clear, cloudless days of unseasonable heat.
Last Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice declared a State of Emergency across West Virginia in response. Outdoor burning has been banned by the governor’s office since Sept. 20.
The past weekend’s chilly rain doesn’t represent a total end to the heat, but it likely means a return to a typical, albeit fickle, October weather pattern, Young said.
“October is typically a see-saw pattern, and that’s what you’re going to start seeing again,” Young said. “Cold front to warm front to warm front — that’s typical of this month, and we’re now into a typical October instead of locked into that pattern (that caused the drought).”
The immediate forecast for Huntington is relatively steady with no more rain in sight. Tuesday will be cool and sunny with a high near 65 degrees, dipping to 52 degrees at night. Highs will creep up to the upper 70s and low 80s on Thursday though Friday before dropping back to the high 60s over the weekend. Sunday night’s overnight low is expected to drop to 43 degrees.