A Carolina summer comes to an end

Summer officially ends Friday, and the close of a week of cloudy, unseasonably cool weather marks an occasion to look back and remind ourselves of the Carolinas Piedmont in summer 2011.

It was a summer of hail storms, high winds and in some parts, even the fringes of tropical storm Irene. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that summer 2011 was hotter than normal in the Charlotte region (see map here). Nationally, says NOAA, 2011 was the second hottest summer on record. (The hottest? 1936.) The average U.S. temperature in August was 75.7 degrees, 3 degrees higher than the long-term (1901-2000) average.

But weather statistics don’t tell the complete story. A Piedmont summer means more than thundershowers, flooded creeks and heat. It evokes lake swimming, wildflowers, Independence Day festivals, feasting on summer’s bounty and offers hints at the coming of fall football season.

Photographer Nancy Pierce’s images capture some of the experiences of the season, as it comes to its close.