Don’t let the pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks or the apple cider doughnuts at the local Stewart’s fool you: Fall isn’t quite here yet.
Wednesday’s heat and humidity proved as much, with the temperature maxing out at 93 degrees and the heat index reaching a high of 105 degrees at Albany International Airport in Colonie.
Many school districts and youth programs ended up canceling their after-school sports, citing safety concerns related to the heat.
The good news for those who prefer cool weather is that Wednesday was most likely the last 90-degree day of the year.
“The chance is probably very low that we will top 90 again, but it has happened,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve DiRienzo.
It was unusual to have such a hot day during the second week of September, he said, but it didn’t break any records. The record high for Sept. 11 in the Capital Region was set in 1931, when the mercury rose to 98 degrees. The record for the latest 90-degree day of the year was set on Oct. 6, 1900.
The combination of heat and moisture is what made Wednesday feel so hot, said DiRienzo. Moisture coming in from the Gulf stream pushed the heat index up, prompting schools to cancel strenuous activities or move them indoors to air-conditioned settings.
The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs and Middleburgh school districts, among others, notified students and parents that games and practices had been canceled or rescheduled Wednesday, citing the high heat index.
Districts are required to check the heat index an hour before a scheduled activity when the air temperature is 80 degrees or higher, in accordance with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. If the heat index is above 96 degrees, the activity must be suspended. By 2 p.m., the index had reached 102 degrees.
“We tell people to drink plenty of fluids, rest and stay out of direct sunlight when the heat index is this high,” said DiRienzo. “I can see why they’re canceling games and practices, because you’ve got kids out there running around for 30 to 45 minutes straight.”
A severe thunderstorm warning was in effect throughout the region Wednesday night, with damaging winds and large hail possible.
While today is expected to be slightly muggy, the temperature should only reach the mid-80s, said DiRienzo. By Friday, the thermometer should drop to “fall-like temperatures” and stay that way for at least a week.