Living up to its billing as the most torrid day of the summer so far, Friday’s high of 90 at Pittsfield Municipal Airport, for the second straight day, marked the end of the county’s most prolonged hot spell since the summer of 2002. Some relief could arrive Sunday.
With a vigorous breeze offering slight relief by mid-afternoon on Friday, Berkshire residents were better off than most others in the Northeast. Boston’s high of 99 at Logan Airport broke the previous record for the date, 98 set in 1982, while New York City also sweltered with 99 recorded at LaGuardia Airport, a record for July 19.
New England’s six-state power grid operator kept a close eye on demand, which peaked at 27,417 megawatts on Friday afternoon, the highest this week, but still not touching the 28,130 MW record from Aug. 2, 2006. ISO New England, based in Holyoke, had issued a cautionary alert for its members, including National Grid and Western Massachusetts Electric Co. in the Berkshires, but no power losses had been reported by early in the evening.
A cool down remains on schedule for Sunday and beyond, but not before some potentially severe weather.
"The main storm threat for the Berkshires is in the afternoon on Saturday," said meteorologist Brian Frugis at the National Weather Service in Albany. N.Y. "A couple of them could be severe and any of them could result in heavy rainfall, gusty winds and hail."
Frugis predicted the storms, triggered by the leading edge of cooler air from Ontario, Canada, would be out of the county by 7 or 8 p.m.
Seasonably warm late-July conditions are on tap for next week, with nothing oppressive in the outlook but some showery periods likely late Monday and Tuesday.
With no records broken or tied, this week’s six-day hot spell remained a runner-up to the Aug. 11-18, 2002, ordeal, which included four days in a row of 90 or more, including single-day records of 92 and 93 at the Pittsfield airport that still stand today.
At Albany International Airport, the Friday temperature topped out at 96. The city hit 100 on Sept. 2 and 3, 1953 -- it was 95 in Pittsfield on Sept. 2, an all-time high that was equaled only once, in 1966 -- while 99 has been reached many times in New York’s capital, most recently in 2011.
That refreshing Canadian air mass should send early Sunday morning lows down to 60 for the first time in 10 days, with highs in the upper 70s. By Tuesday, showery, warmer and more humid conditions are likely to return, but no hot spell is in sight, at least for a week or so.
Since June 21, temperatures have been above normal, often dramatically, according to observations at the Pittsfield airport.
By the numbers
Here are this week’s actual and predicted highs, plus the records for each date, recorded at Pittsfield Municipal Airport:
July 15: 87, actual; 88, record in 1979.
July 16: 88, actual; 89, record in 1983.
July 17: 88, actual; 91, record in 2012.
July 18: 90, actual; 92, record in 1953.
July 19: 90, actual; 92, record in 1964.
July 20: 85, predicted; 91, record in 1991.
Sources: Eagle files; National Weather Service; Accuweather.com