After a few days of heat and humidity last week, our weather shifted to a cooler and much drier pattern. A cool front from Canada chased the hot and humid weather southward where it resides most of the summer.
So far this summer, the area has experienced seven days of 90 degree or above temperatures. Five out of the seven days only hit 90 degrees and the other two topped out at 93 degrees. In a normal summer, we see 10 days of 90 degree or better temperatures. Nearby Pittsburgh has only had three days of 90 plus heat.
The summer of 1988 saw 38 days with 90 or better and four days above the 100 degree mark. A lot of hype last week about our heat and humidity, but nothing like that summer of ‘88.
The heat and humidity can be dangerous especially if working outside or living without air conditioning. As a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, there were very few air conditioned homes and the few business establishments that had AC, placed a sticker on the window with a picture of a penguin resting on an ice berg. Needless to say, we always overstayed our welcome in these establishments having a 10 cent coke cola and being able to linger at the counter or in a booth to enjoy the cool air. We have lived in our mountain home for almost 50 years and just installed air during the past few years. Funny, how we get used to things and wonder how we lived without the benefits of air conditioning.
During the summer months, when we do see an occasional visit of the heat and humidity from the south the weather, people always talk about the dew point temperature as a measure of how uncomfortable the air can get. The higher the dew point the more uncomfortable we are.
Dew point is a measure of the amount of moisture that is in the air. When dew points are in the 50s and low 60s everybody is comfortable. As the dew point temperature climbs towards 70 degrees, we get more uncomfortable and when they reach into the low and mid 70s, everybody is complaining about how uncomfortable they feel especially when the actual air temperature is in the upper 80s or 90s.
In the rainfall department, we continue to be on the wet side. Every month but March has had above normal rainfall, and we are now ahead of last year at this time. You may recall last year was the wettest in Southwestern Pennsylvania since 1866 with most areas running some 12 to 17 inches above normal. We average 40 inches in Uniontown and 54 inches in the mountains. We are some 8 inches above our normal average so far and Uniontown just had a 4 inch rainfall in a few hours this past weekend. Interesting that just a few miles away at our weather station at Chalk Hill we only had .51 of an inch compared to Uniontown. These flash flood rainfalls seem to be increasing over the years and any time you get 2-4 inches of rain in a few hours with our hilly terrain, you will have flash flooding.
A few days of heat and humidity or an occasional heavy rain does not prove climate change, but a warmer earth caused by warmer oceans does add energy to the atmosphere and this added energy makes for more severe storms.
Clearly something is going on, and perhaps we need to start paying attention. Kicking the can down the road while the hillsides are coming down and the oceans are rising may not work much longer. Stay tuned.