Cool weather headed out soon

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Gina Duwe
Thursday, August 15, 2013

JANESVILLE--If you're wishing it didn't feel like fall, just wait a few more days.

The below-average temps hitting the area this week will move out so the upper 80s and even 90s can return next week.

This week's highs in the low 70s are in stark contrast to last summer's scorching heat, and Gazette weather data dating to 1948 show this summer has been cooler than average. Since June, Janesville's highs have been below average 67 percent of the days.

That's resulted in an attendance drop of about 25 percent at Janesville's three municipal pools through July, recreation director Shelley Slapak said.

The past week of cold swimming weather brought general public attendance down, to the point where the wading pools at Palmer and Riverside parks were closed early, she said. Palmer is supposed to be open until 7 p.m., but nobody has been there after 5 to 6 p.m., she said.

Pools won't close unless it's cold and no swimmers are present, she said. The wading pools remain open through Aug. 25, while Rockport Pool closes for the season Sunday.

An upper-level low pressure area situated over the Great Lakes region helped funnel the cold northwest air from Canada into the area, said Sarah Marquardt, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sullivan.

A change in the weather pattern will slowly bring the temps back up over the next few days, she said.

That's good news for crops, which are one to two weeks behind normal, UW Extension crops and soils agent Jim Stute estimated.

“That's the combination of later planting, plus the fact that it's been so cool,” he said.

Generally, the corn looks “really good,” he said.

“What everyone is worried about is that the plants won't make it to maturity before the first killing frost,” he said.

If that happens, plants don't reach their full yield potential and the drying process is slower, meaning higher drying costs.

Corn needs heat and sunshine to fill the kernels and fulfill their yield potential, he said. Same with soybeans—they need heat and sun to photosynthesize and fill the pods, he said.

This weather pattern is the same as 2004, when the weather shifted to higher, above-normal temps in September, pushing the frost to later than normal and allowing the corn to mature, he said.

“That's pretty much what we need right now,” he said.

The long-term climate outlook for fall in southern Wisconsin shows temperatures being normal to slightly above average, while late fall and winter have a slightly above average chance for above-average temps, Marquardt said.

Cooler weather means less electricity used by air conditioners, but energy sales for Alliant Energy were pretty normal last month compared to a 20-year average, spokesman Scott Reigstad said. Compared to last year, however, sales were down significantly, he said.

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