Outdoors Lady Slipper pic.jpg

Jack Hughes

The somewhat elusive Lady Slippers are a wild orchid that grow in our area and bloom in mid-May.

After several weeks of cool, damp weather, this past week was a real treat as the promises of a warmer and drier pattern came true to the delight of all.

Out came the shorts and summer clothing as folks across Southwestern Pennsylvania took time to be outside doing some of their favorites. Hiking and biking were popular for some while others enjoyed working in their gardens and cutting the grass or just tending to the many outdoor projects that seem to need attention at this time of the year.

Diane and I celebrated our mutual birthday this past Tuesday with a wildflower hike looking for the somewhat elusive Lady Slippers.

They are a wild orchid that grow in our area and bloom in mid-May. We were rewarded with several patches of these beauties along with millions of purple Wild Geranium and many clusters of yellow Ragwort.

These late spring wildflowers will soon give way to a pause in the appearance of additional varieties as Mother Nature gets the stage ready for the summer wildflowers which are rehearsing for their upcoming show.

Temperatures last week quickly rose from the 50s and 60s into the 80s and even flirted with 90 degrees. We even saw a few swimmers taking advantage of the warm weather but I usually wait until late May. Of course they were much younger and seem to tolerate the cold water better than us older folks.

It is always fascinating to watch the progression of the seasons across our area. The cold air that dominates in winter is always reluctant to give up and be chased away by the returning warmer air from the south. The same is true in the fall when the advancing army of cold air is trying to push the warm air that has dominated all summer back to the south.

All of our weather is a clash between these two armies of air that battle each other for dominance. When the air near the equator warms it wants to expand and move north and as it meets the retreating cold air it sometimes get violent producing strong thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Later in the year as the cold air builds into a large mound in the Arctic it too wants to expand and move southward and as it does weather forms along the battle zone. These zones of collision of air masses are known as weather fronts and this is where most of the weather that affects our area come from.

We also get additional weather from two other sources. Summertime showers are the result of the convective process which allows warm air to rise condense, form clouds and local showers.

In winter, we get cold air coming across the warmer Great Lakes and as the cold dry air crosses it picks up moisture and condenses into clouds and snow showers.

Looking ahead it does appear that we may have a bit of rain this coming week. It’s been over 10 days since we had a good rain and our emerging gardens and plants could use a watering.

Temperatures are expected to be a bit above normal. Averages for late May are highs in the mid to upper 70s and morning lows in the low 50s.

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