Do you remember two summers ago when all we could hear was about the endless heat? It is quite the opposite this year, at least for the eastern half of the US. Here in Baltimore for example, BWI only has had 10 days reaching 90°F or higher so far this year. Compare that to 2012 when we had 14 days above 90°F, and 2 above 100°F just through June. July alone that year had 21 days above 90°F, with 4 of those days at or above 100°F.
If you subscribe to the the law of averages, eventually things balance out.
This month as a whole might not seems extraordinary with the exception of the many strong/severe storms and one Independence Day Hurricane (Arthur). The monthly average temperature is only 0.6°F below normal (including highs and lows). But a deeper look into the records will show that four mornings have tied or broken record low temperatures:
- July 5th = 55°F
- July 18th = 57°F
- July 25th = 57°F
- July 29th = 59°F
Average low for July 5th was 66°F, it is 67°F for the other days which is the warmest time of the year.
Headlines have been about the drought, heat, and wild fires in far western states. Yes, it is bad there, and a flip side of our pattern. Do you recall that there was still ice seen on Lake Superior past Memorial Day Weekend. There has also been a lot of dramatic storm video leading the charge. In fact I watched the first seven minutes of a popular network morning show (that will remain nameless) this morning and you would think it was a preview for the August premier of Into the Storm, or perhaps even Sharknado 2 on SYFY tomorrow night. It was a barrage of reports including twisters near Denver’s International Airport and a town in Massachusetts.
Below normal tornadoes
A quick look at the tornado reports this year, and 851 ranks 3rds lowest in the last decade. While we are up from last year, 2013 was the lowest tornado count on record in the US. It was also the lowest hurricane activity in the Atlantic. While this year is far from over, and any one twister can be one too many if you get hit, it is all relative. So answering the common question about why the weather is more extreme: It actually isn't. But I would go on to suggest the cooler than normal weather pattern in our region has been the primary cause for frequent strong and severe thunderstorms. That contrast to normal summer heat is the culprit.
*From a recent article to keep perspective on extreme weather reporting.
NOT a Polar Vortex
The term Polar Vortex is now in the camp with derecho, El Nino, and perhaps Pineapple Express as over used weather terms (see other severe storm definitions). I have often expressed my belief in atmospheric memory in long range patterns. I even made the connection of the track of Hurricane Arthur with our strongest winter storm in February. But similar patterns do not mean the same event. A snowstorm is a cold core Low while a Hurricane has a warm core and originates from a different region. The Polar Vortex we experienced this winter was the centric circulation around the north pole that wobbled south and clipped the northern US with the coldest air possible at the coldest time of the year- January. It resulted in record breaking cold and some rare ice formations on the Chesapeake Bay and even canceled the annual Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point ironically due to ice. There was another visit later one bringing the coldest March temperature on record to Baltimore.
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*Kid Weather App:
Learn more cool things like this about weather. See the app I made with my son who is now in 1st grade. We have over 400 items of trivia plus live weather and forecasts for kids. See more and links for your device at kidweatherapp.com