Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dog Days In The Southern Piedmont

Sirius, the Dog Star

While some folks dread them I look forward to the coming of the "dog days." The heat makes me thrive and my arthritis becomes a memory. Atlanta's climate data tells us that on average the warmest days of 2015 will be behind us in a few weeks. The sun is already casting ever longer shadows as it arcs lower across the southern sky. Leaves hang limp on trees catching more and more of that light, giving the woods a golden hue even at midday. The aging summer has also brought this year's acorn crop to maturity. I can tell because the squirrel community in our woods is starting to work overtime on the harvest. They litter the patio daily with twigs, leaves, and broken nuts, making for a big mess as well as grilling "under fire."

Calm days and high temperatures also lead to popcorn thundershowers that meander across the region waiting to die out as fast as they are born. So far they've brought powerful lightning, the positive strikes that start fires, inches of rainfall, high winds, and pea sized hail. Their punch for such a small footprint has been much bigger this year. I enjoy them as long as no one gets hurt.

Weather isn't the only sky phenomenon at this time. Early Perseid meteors remind us that the most dependable star shower of the year is coming, reaching its peak in the early morning hours of August 12, just before sunrise. This year there will be little to no moon to compete with the dimmer meteors so we can expect a fine display if the weather cooperates. I hope that's the case because this is my shower as one of my earliest memories is seeing a Perseid blaze across the sky from my crib at a bedroom window. My Aunt Edith was there and she told me what it was. The wait and watch is an annual event now extending nearly seventy years.

As the Perseids dwindle so will the dog days give way to more comfortable temperatures, moderated even more by occasional easterly waves bringing showers and salt air off the Atlantic 200 miles to the southeast. The sound sequence of crickets to cicadas to katydids will come earlier and earlier each evening but there is still another half of summer to enjoy. Bring it on.

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