In many areas of the country, Labor Day has become recognized as the last gasp of summer -– not something typical in Alabama which often sees high temperatures throughout September. Thanks to Tropical Storm Lee, which dumped between three and four inches of rain in parts of Calhoun County over the weekend, the area got a taste of fall early. And it looks like the cooler weather might be here for a little while longer. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in Anniston aren’t expected to exceed 80 degrees this week, with a slight chance of even more rain to come this weekend.
“We had the tropical storm come through which produced a lot of cloud cover,” said Jessica Talley, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service in Birmingham. “We also have a cold front from the north which is influencing our temperature for the rest of the forecast period.”
Talley said the reprieve from the heat will be welcome, but temperatures are actually expected to pick up to normal by next week -– somewhere in the upper 80’s.
“We’ll start trending down,” Talley said on the coming of autumn temperatures, “but we’ll be right about normal for this time of the year.”
In other words, now might be the best time for Anniston residents to get outside while the weather is doing its best autumn imitation.
“With the summer heat, people have been hemmed up for about a month or so,” said Patrick Wigley, owner of Wig’s Wheels bike and skate shop on Noble Street. “People are just waiting for that break in the weather.”
Wigley said “cabin fever” from the dog days of summer gets bike riders in Alabama itching for the outdoors once fall rolls around, as evidenced by a little spike in sales. With the changing of leaves, also comes the change of biking.
“People start to migrate to mountain biking a little more,” Wigley said, noting the season gives bikers a more “scenic” view while going for rides. “They get off the road into the woods a little bit where the trees tend to keep the wind off you.”
And while fall might come a little later than in some areas, it tends to stay a little longer too.
“Our winters are so mild, our riding season is longer here,” Wigley said. “Last year we were riding in short sleeves and shirts right into December while other parts of the country are snowed in.”
In the short term, the cooler weather should benefit weekend activities in Cleburne County, as the city of Heflin plans to celebrate its 125th anniversary on Saturday
“We’re really excited about that,” said Heflin City Clerk Terri Daulton on the possibility of a little chill in the air. Outdoor events were scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the Ross Street Park in anticipation of typical high September temperatures, but now the hope is the weather might actually hit the colder side of autumn.
“If we have to wear a coat, we won’t mind,” Daulton said.
Temperatures were already low enough for heavier wardrobes in Anniston Tuesday afternoon, as the final rains from Lee slowly made their way out of the area. Jacksonville State University student Meko Moore said she was in desperate need of a coat as she hurried out of the rain into Wal-Mart on McClellan Boulevard.
“It is a lot colder out today than I thought it would be,” Moore said, adding “I’m looking forward to (fall), I’m ready for summer to be over.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by many who have been looking forward to any way to just get out of the heat this summer. Standing in a sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over her head on Tuesday, Anniston resident Chelsea Burdett summed up the last few months succinctly.
“It’s been way too hot,” she said.
Star staff writer Brian Anderson: 256-235-3546