August 11, 2022

Relief On The Way As Blissful Cold Front Briefly Kicks East Coast Humidity

Ahhh. While there's nothing better than the first cold front of fall, a cold front that scours away the humidity for a few days in the middle of August has to be a close runner up. A push of cooler, drier air working its way down from Canada will sweep over much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic through the weekend, bringing a few days of much-deserved gorgeous conditions.

A Sticky Summer So Far

It's been a relentlessly gross summer so far, with hot temperatures every day and sticky humidity to match. Take a look at these daily high dew point values for the past couple of months here in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Data plot generated using this awesome tool from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet.

The dew point is the best way to measure how muggy or dry the air feels. The air is fully saturated (or 100% relative humidity) when the air temperature meets the dew point temperature.

Dew points below 60°F are comfortable. The air starts to feel muggy between 60-65°F, it's noticeably humid above 65°F, and conditions are downright soupy and tropical once the dew point climbs above 70°F.

It's not just a case of "North Carolina being North Carolina in the summer," either. Here's a look at the same chart for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Source: IEM

Yuck. This year's mugginess even stands out compared to other years through the beginning of August. This is a look at how many hours Philadelphia's dew point came in at 60°F or higher between January 1st and August 9th of each year since 1941.

Source: IEM

This summer-to-date ranks as the fourth-muggiest on record in Philadelphia, and the unusually high moisture levels this season is a repeating story up and down the eastern seaboard.

Thankfully, some short-lived relief is on the way.

Here Comes A Cold Front

A sharp upper-level trough swooping over eastern Canada will bring a cold front sweeping across the region over the next couple of days.

This front will send a flood of cooler, less humid air sweeping over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states through the weekend.

Source: Tropical Tidbits

Dew points will fall into the 50s as far south as Georgia and South Carolina, with even drier air likely to spread over the Great Lakes and New England through Sunday.

This is going to feel faaantastic. My goodness. You'll be able to open the windows after dark and air out the house for the first time in months. It'll be gorgeous weather for a nice walk around the neighborhood or a long lounge outside with a refreshing beverage and nothing but the breeze on your face and bugs chirping away.

Enjoy it while it lasts, though. It looks like a storm system will form behind that trough, bringing several days of clouds and rain to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast heading into early next week.

After that...well, it's still summer, after all. Heat and humidity will start to build back. But the next couple of days will be a nice reminder that we're past the halfway point in this hot summer and fall is on the way.

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August 6, 2022

Drought Covers Half Of The U.S. As Long, Hot Summer Continues

It's been a long and hot stretch for much of the United States so far this summer, and things aren't looking too good if you're peeking at the forecast for some relief.

Stubborn ridges of high pressure have kept things very warm over much of the country this season, with  folks from the Pacific Northwest to the southeast notching one heat wave after another.

Denver is battling through one of its hottest summers on record up to this point. 9News meteorologist Chris Bianchi tweeted on Friday that Denver's average daily temperature so far this summer is 74.6°F, making this the second-warmest summer through the beginning of August.

Seattle ended July by shattering its longest streak of days with high temperatures of 90°F or hotter. The stretch between July 26th and July 31st recorded highs of 94°F, 91°F, 94°F, 95°F, 95°F, 95°F, respectively, which is way above the city's normal high of about 79°F at the end of the month.

Dallas hasn't seen a below-average high temperature since the end of June, with almost every day this summer notching a high temperature 5-12°F above normal at DFW Airport.

Long, Hot Summer Reinforces Drought

The heat's taken its toll. More than half of the contiguous United States fell into a drought this summer, and things haven't really gotten much better for the hardest-hit areas.

Vast swaths of Texas have seen less than 15 percent of their typical precipitation so far this summer, and deficits are widespread across the rest of the country.

As a result, 51.39 percent of the contiguous U.S. is in a drought as of the August 2nd update of the United States Drought Monitor (USDM). Nearly one-fifth of the country is in a severe or extreme drought, the two highest categories on the USDM's scale measuring the extent and longevity of drought conditions.

The long-term drought across the west stands out like a sore thumb. A beneficial monsoon in recent weeks has put a dent in the southwest's drought, but exceptional drought remains over parts of California's Central Valley, southern Nevada, and portions of central Utah.

Moderate and severe drought conditions have also built across parts of the northern Plains, Mid-South, and across New England. 

Heat Persists For Some, Relieving Rains For Others

The forecast for the rest of the month isn't looking too good for the central U.S., with the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calling for decent odds of above-average temperatures and below-normal rainfall through the rest of the month.

This kind of pattern will bring better news for the western and eastern portions of the country, with troughs building around the ridge to bring a bit of relief from excessive heat, as well as the chance for rain in areas that could really use it.

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July 16, 2022

Dangerous Heat, 110°F+ High Temperatures On The Way For Southern Plains

There's a hot summer day and a dang hot summer day. A spell of extreme heat on the southern Plains is set to get worse over the next couple of days as high temperature crank well above the 100-degree mark for much of the region. Highs will easily climb above 110°F for some areas, especially in Oklahoma.

A strong ridge of high pressure building over the western two-thirds of the United States will focus its ire on the southern Plains as we begin the workweek. It's already been pretty darn hot month across the region so far. 12 of the past 16 days at Dallas-Fort Worth Int'l Airport have clocked in at 100°F or hotter so far this month, and that pattern looks to continue as we head into the new week.

The worst of the heat will build on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The National Weather Service's latest forecast calls for high temperatures to exceed 105°F 

Here are the NWS's predicted highs for Monday, July 18th...

...Tuesday, July 19th...

...and Wednesday, July 20th.

That's brutal heat for anyone. It's going to be exceptionally rough on vulnerable populations such as the elderly, low-income families who don't have adequate (or any) access to air conditioning or fans, folks battling illnesses, and those who have to work outside for long periods of time.

What's going to make the heat even harder is that it's not going to cool off much at night. Tuesday is going to be the hottest day across the region, and nighttime temperatures are going to struggle to fall below 80°F in spots, especially in Oklahoma.

Here's the National Weather Service's predicted low temperatures for Wednesday morning:

That's a morning low of 86°F in Tulsa. Ouch.

Extreme heat is a compounding risk. Each day of excessively hot temperatures bleeds into the next, without much relief at night, adding stress to vulnerable populations until it becomes too much to bear.

Heat exhaustion is no joke. It can sneak up on you in a hurry if you're not careful. Drink more water than you think you need to drink. Don't push it in the hot sunshine. Find ways to stay cool if you don't have adequate cooling. Check on your neighbors if you know they might have a hard time with the heat.


The ridge will start to break down a bit as we head later into the week, but broad ridging over the central United States will keep temperatures at or above the century mark for the southern Plains at least through next weekend. This is going to be a rough stretch of hot weather the likes of which this region hasn't seen in a long while. 

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July 2, 2022

It's Time For The Atlantic's Annual "Where'd That Tropical Storm Come From?"


Tropical Storm Colin formed over coastal South Carolina early Saturday morning, becoming the third named storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season.

The storm that satellite image above. It takes a trained eye and some imagination to find it, but it's there, according to the experts at the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Where'd it come from? Who knows! The Carolinas are world-renowned for their barbecue, bad drivers, and spinning up tropical storms from seemingly nowhere.

A small low-pressure system developed off the Georgia coast early Friday afternoon. The NHC noted the system in its 2:00 p.m. tropical weather outlook and gave it a low chance of developing over the next couple of days.

Funny things happen close to the coast during the early summer, though, and the low-pressure system gradually became better organized. The NHC declared it Tropical Storm Colin at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday, saying in its first discussion:

A small area of low pressure formed along a surface trough just  offshore of Savannah, Georgia, yesterday morning and moved inland across the Lowcountry of South Carolina by the evening.  Deep convection formed near the low center as it was moving inland and has persisted and become better organized over the past 6 to 12 hours.  In addition, surface observations and ASCAT data from 02-03 UTC indicated that an area of sustained 35-kt winds had developed offshore and near the coast of South Carolina.  As a result, and rather unexpectedly, Tropical Storm Colin has formed near the South Carolina coast, centered just inland a bit to the northeast of Charleston.

Ain't that somethin'?

Thankfully, Colin is relatively weak and folks getting rained on this long holiday weekend won't notice much of a difference between this tropical storm and a typical dreary day.

The latest forecast from the NHC shows Colin hanging around for another day, moseying over North Carolina's Outer Banks before it loses tropical characteristics. Aside from rip currents at the coast, there's not really much to worry about here—only an inch or two of rain with a low chance for flash flooding along the immediate coast.

There have been a decent number of short-lived tropical storms in recent years that spun-up just before they made landfall in the southeastern United States. 

Last year's Tropical Storm Mindy formed at 4:00 p.m. and made landfall on the Florida Panhandle four hours later. The year before that, Tropical Storm Bertha formed and hit Charleston, S.C., just an hour-and-a-half later. 

Tropical Storm Colin also appears to be the third Atlantic storm in recent memory that strengthened into a tropical storm while the system's center of circulation was over land.

Last year, forecasters upgraded Claudette into a tropical storm twice (!!) while it was over land. The system that became Tropical Storm Julia in September 2016 formed into both a tropical depression and a tropical storm while its center was inland over Florida's East Coast.

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July 1, 2022

Tropical Storm Bonnie Could Achieve A Rare Feat: Changing Oceans

Tropical Storm Bonnie (finally) formed in the far southern Caribbean Sea on Friday afternoon, becoming the second storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. We've been watching this system for a while now, performing its will-it-or-won't-it routine as it skimmed the northern shores of South America.

This tropical storm will be a big deal for folks in Central America. Very heavy rainfall over mountainous terrain will lead to widespread and life-threatening flash flooding across much of Nicaragua and Costa Rica through the weekend.

The National Hurricane Center's 11:00 a.m. EDT update on Friday showed Tropical Storm Bonnie as a minimal tropical storm, moving west a decent clip toward the Nicaraguan coast. Forecasters expect the storm to make landfall on Friday night, lingering through the day on Saturday for many areas.

Even weak tropical systems are bad news when they hit Central America. The region's rugged terrain exacerbates flash flooding from tropical systems that cross the area. The NHC's advisory calls for 4-8 inches of rain, with localized amounts of a foot or more possible.

Bonnie is a strange tropical storm that has the potential to land a spot in the recordbooks. Not only is this one of the farthest-south storms ever recorded—thanks to a strong ridge of high pressure over the Atlantic shunting it far to the south—but forecasters expect it to survive its encounter with Central America and emerge over the eastern Pacific unscathed.

It's very, very rare for tropical systems to cross from the Atlantic to the Pacific intact. Land interaction typically shreds these storms apart, leaving only their cloudy remnants to wander into the adjacent ocean and look for more opportunities to organize into a new storm.

But the latest NHC forecast calls for Tropical Storm Bonnie to cross Nicaragua intact this weekend,  thanks in large part to its swift forward speed and the narrowness of this part of Central America. Forecasters expect Bonnie to emerge in the eastern Pacific on Saturday as a tropical system with the same center of circulation it developed over on the Atlantic side. 

If the storm accomplishes this rare feat, it'll retain its Atlantic name. Forecasters expect Bonnie to continue its Pacific adventure even stronger than it started life, potentially strengthening into a hurricane as it parallels Mexico's western coast heading into early next week.

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June 28, 2022

Developing Atlantic Tropical Storm Set To Take An Unusual Track

A tropical wave that's made its way across the eastern Atlantic Ocean for the past couple of days is on the verge of organizing into Tropical Storm Bonnie on Tuesday. The system will bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the southern Caribbean—which itself is unusual for the end of June, but it's an odd storm track altogether.

Southern Caribbean On Alert

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) calls the system "Potential Tropical Cyclone Two," a bureaucratic term that gives forecasters the ability to issue tropical storm watches and warnings before the system formally develops into a tropical depression or tropical storm.

Forecasters expect PTC Two to organize during the day on Tuesday, becoming Tropical Storm Bonnie as it approaches Trinidad and Tobago.

The storm will skim the southern periphery of the Caribbean Sea through the week, bringing foul weather to places like Aruba and the northern coasts of Colombia and Venezuela.

From there, the NHC's forecast calls for future-Bonnie to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall in Nicaragua by the end of the week.

Any tropical cyclone is bad news for Central America—the region's rough terrain makes flash flooding and mudslides a life-threatening ordeal no matter how strong a storm is when it pushes ashore.

Strange Storm, Strange Track

The system's existence is a bit of an oddity for this early in the season. Early-season storms usually form closer to the United States, the result of decaying fronts or thunderstorm complexes that move into the western Atlantic basin.

We usually don't start seeing tropical waves push off Africa and move across the tropical Atlantic until the middle and latter half of the summer. This storm's origin isn't unheard of for the end of June, but it's on the extreme side of "huh, that's weird" for a storm this early in the season.

Not only are we dealing with a premature tropical wave, but it's going to follow an equally unusual track. A very strong ridge of high pressure over the eastern half of the Atlantic Ocean will push this system into Trinidad and Tobago, then allow it to skirt the northern shores of South America through the week.

Systems usually don't track this far south. 

Future-Bonnie's track is on the far southern edge of all recorded storms over the past 170 years of diligent recordkeeping—all as a result of that strong ridge.

Forecasters expect a busy hurricane season in the weeks and months ahead. This could be our eighth above-average season in a row, with more than a dozen named storms likely through this fall. It's more important than ever to make sure you're prepared for flooding, power outages, or worse, even if you live hundreds of miles inland.

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June 25, 2022

Two Tropical Disturbances To Watch In The Atlantic As June Rolls To A Close

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is watching two disturbances in the Atlantic basin for potential tropical development as we head into the last week of June. One disturbance in the Gulf will bring heavy rain to coastal communities regardless of development, while the other is far out in the tropical Atlantic, with plenty of time to watch before it threatens land.

Gulf Disturbance

A cluster of thunderstorms hanging out over the northern Gulf Coast has a 20 percent (low) chance of developing into a tropical depression over the next couple of days.

This disturbance is one of those situations where it's bringing noteworthy impacts whether or not it actually forms into anything more. Heavy rain is falling over portions of southern Alabama, southern Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana.

The latest rainfall forecast from the Weather Prediction Center calls for an additional 3-5+ inches of rain over the next few days. Heavy, tropical rainfall will lead to the threat for localized flooding in some areas.

It's worth watching regardless, because this is exactly where you'd expect to see a tropical system form in June.

Speaking of where it's normal to see storms...

Tropical Atlantic Disturbance

It's a bit unusual to talk about tropical development deep in the tropical Atlantic around the beginning of the season. Early-season storms tend to form close to land, often stemming off of decayed fronts or thunderstorm complexes. We don't start seeing true tropical waves rolling off the coast of Africa until we get closer to August.

Never say never, though. The NHC says there's a 60 percent (medium) chance of a tropical disturbance developing over the next couple of days as it steadily makes its way toward the Lesser Antilles. 

It's far enough from land that we don't have to worry about it just yet. There's plenty of time to watch its potential development and where it'll track.

Source: Tropical Tidbits

There's a strong ridge of high pressure over the central and eastern Atlantic Ocean that'll steer this system. The strength of the ridge will determine how far north it goes.

A stronger ridge will push it farther south—think Aruba and Nicaragua—while a weaker ridge would allow the system to pull farther north.

Slow Start To The Season...For Once

This year's seen a much slower start to hurricane season than we've seen in the past couple of years. 2022 is the first season since 2014 that didn't see its first named storm form before June 1st.

We did cut it close, though, when Tropical Storm Alex formed south of Bermuda after drenching Florida as a will-it-or-won't-it-develop type of deal.

Forecasters across the board expect this hurricane season to see above-average activity, though, as a result of La Niña and warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures across the Atlantic.

It's a cliché, but remember that it really only takes one storm to make any hurricane season a bad hurricane season for you. Some of the worst damage has resulted from tremendous flooding produced by tropical storms, tropical depressions, and unnamed tropical disturbances.

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June 15, 2022

Strong Tornadoes, Damaging Winds Possible In The Upper Midwest Wednesday

Dangerous severe thunderstorms are possible Wednesday afternoon across portions of the Upper Midwest, with the bulk of the severe risk focused on Wisconsin. Storms in and around the risk areas could produce strong, long-lived tornadoes, damaging wind gusts in excess of 75 mph, and hail the size of golf balls or larger.

Wednesday's severe weather risk is a typical side effect of a heat wave like the one parked over the eastern half of the country right now. Severe storms thrive around the edges of the ridge, which often puts the Upper Midwest right in line for multiple rounds of rough storms for the duration of the heat wave.

A low-pressure system will develop over the northern Great Lakes during the day, setting the stage for severe thunderstorms to develop across the Upper Midwest.

The Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk, a 4 out of 5 on the agency's scale measuring the threat for severe weather, focused on much of Wisconsin, with an enhanced risk (3 out of 5) radiating outward to include northeastern Iowa and portions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

All modes of severe weather are possible on Wednesday afternoon. Strong, long-lived tornadoes are possible across most of Wisconsin. Storms could also produce damaging wind gusts of 75 mph or stronger, as well as hail the size of golf balls or larger.

This is one of those days where it pays to be proactive about watches and warnings. Check your phone and make sure emergency alerts are activated for tornado warnings. Scout out your home, office, or anywhere you plan to be today for safe places to take cover if you go under a tornado warning.

The threat for severe weather will shift toward the Northeast on Thursday, with a threat for tornadoes, damaging winds, and large hail focused on Pennsylvania and western New York.

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