Friday, July 20, 2012

Brutal heat's gone, but for how long?

We've caught a break in the Carolinas for nearly two weeks, as the searing heat wave that brought a steady string of 100-degree days has retreated to the west.

But the strong high pressure system responsible for the very hot weather from late June through the first week of July isn't gone.  It's off to the west, baking the Mississippi Valley and Great Plains. It could return, and some meteorologists predict it will.

Actually, it makes sense to expect the high pressure to build back over the eastern United States eventually.

In the meantime, we're enjoying a break. A weak trough of low pressure has persisted for the past two weeks in the Southeast, buffering us between the Midwest heat pump and another strong high in the Atlantic.

Temperatures frequently get into the 90s, but that's typical of summer in the Southeast. On occasion, a weak cold front has pushed into the Carolinas and died, but the front has brought more frequent thunderstorm activity and a few days when high temperatures stayed in the 80s. It looks like Saturday will be such a day.

The pattern appears to hold next week. High pressure will try to build inland from the Atlantic, but the weak cold front that moves into the Carolinas this weekend and then dissipates will still leave a presence in the region. That weakness will allow for thunderstorms to develop every afternoon, keeping temperatures in check.

If this were the height of hurricane season, we'd be in trouble.

The weak trough of low pressure across the Carolinas would provide a very attractive path for any tropical storm or hurricane steered toward the eastern United States, but the tropics have been quiet since early June, fortunately.

Paul Pastelok, a long-range meteorologist with Accu-Weather, said earlier this week that he expects a few more surges of heat in the East later this summer. Pastelok even advanced the idea that some of those heat waves could come in September or even early October.

Incidentally, I saw a report this week from Accu-Weather, in which one of its meteorological partners says 2012 could wind up as the second-hottest summer on record. Weatherbank Inc. measures heat by the number of cooling degree days. A cooling degree is every degree above 65 for an average. In other words, if the high is 75 and the low is 57, giving us an average for the day of 66, we had 1 heating degree days.

Weatherbank measures the total number of heating degree days at 59 major U.S. cities, from May 15 to Sept. 15. Meteorologists say we got off to a slow start, because June was rather cool. But we're making up for lost time. Weatherbank's Steve Root predicts we'll have the second-highest number of heating degree days this year.

The all-time mark of 60,402 was set last summer. Second-most was 60,078, set in 1951. The company keeps records back to 1950. The average for a summer is 51,923, but the average over the past 10 summers is 56,134 (there's some ammo for you climate change believers).

In Charlotte, the average temperature so far this month is 82.2 degrees, which ranks seventh overall. But with a few more hot days, we easily could reach No. 3 all-time.

9 comments:

J said...

Brutal heat gone? We're catching a break? That's your opinion. 88 degress and 90% humidity is every bit as brutal as a 104-degree day.

And before the climate change alarmists get rolling - I saw an interesting documentary on the History Channel the other day about climate change. Turns out the Earth went through a dramatic warming pattern, similar to what's happening now, about 1,400 years ago.

Yep, 1,400 years ago. So much for the 21st century climate change alarmist theory that the Earth can warm in one situation, and one situation only, that being when Evil American Republicans burn fossil fuels, and if only the Evil American Republicans could be forced to produce eletricity only by wind and solar power and by giving all their money to poor people, the warming would stop. Sorry alarmists....

Anonymous said...

Quick - let's alert all these so called "scientists" to this History Channel documentary. If they'd have only known about that they wouldn't have had to spend all that time doing actual scientific research into the matter. Obviously the fact that the earth has warmed and cooled at times over its history is definitive proof humans are having no effect on the climate. Thank goodness we've solved that one.

Anonymous said...

It's all relative. It may not be 100° outside today but 92° with the current humidity is still a killer if you work outside. As to "catching a break?" Talk to me in October.

Anonymous said...

what was really three days of "brutal heat" retreated quickly into a seasonal pattern, which we also saw just prior to the "hype" wave, thorughout June. Yes, it's over, and we'll just deal with typical 90 degree swelter from here through August. So is summer in Charlotte

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, I saw a report this week from Accu-Weather, in which one of its meteorological partners says 2012 could wind up as the second-hottest summer on record. Weatherbank Inc. measures heat by the number of cooling degree days. A cooling degree is every degree above 65 for an average. In other words, if the high is 75 and the low is 57, giving us an average for the day of 66, we had 1 heating degree days.


Well it would be good if once again the CO could actually write. It states that a cooling degree is every degree above the average whereas the example given is a heating degree despite it being above the average. Now while I can figure out what they meant to write, it would be nice if the CO could actually write.

Anonymous said...

To "J" above. They are comparing it to the average for the day. If you do not like 88 degree days, move north. That has been the norm here for 1,000s of years in the south.

Anonymous said...

Wow seriously gripping because its 88 and high Humidity? Try 120, no moister and 45 mph winds. Feels like you are standing in a blast furnace. here in Kansas we are in a SEVERE drought, you have no idea how bad it can get! Everything here is burning. Farmers are loosing crops, can't find enough water or pasture for livestock ect. Maybe you should quit your whining, you have no idea how bad it could be!

Bill Price said...

Kansas? Really? 120? You have NEVER seen 120! 104 with 40% humidity is nothing! Try 104 with 90% humidity. I would love 120 with no humidity. Try living here, instead of a blast furnace, you drown with every breath. Get out of here Kansas! I didn't even know anyone lived there still!

Dwayne Thompson said...

Good job Steve. I truly enjoy reading your blog. I love the people that get on here anonymously and are editors all of a sudden.

@ July 21 8:02AM.....Blogs are not formal writing, it is like having an open conversation. So what if you make mistakes. Please create your own so we can all go and destroy it.