The topsy-turvy Summer of 2013 weather is about to take another sharp twist, restoring at least one more stretch of beach weather before August winds down and some county schools gear up for pre-Labor Day Weekend openings.
The weather-roulette wheel has spun to cool and has stuck there -- unusual for mid-summer -- ever since a hot spell came to an abrupt end on July 24 after 31 days of far above normal daytime highs and steamy overnights while a tropical air mass remained stubbornly anchored over the Northeast.
"It’s been a very streaky season, no question about it," said meteorologist Hugh Johnson at the National Weather Service office in Albany, N.Y. "It’s been a blocky pattern, systems set up and then they don’t move much. We haven’t had a smooth west-to-east jet stream."
Tracking back to June 1, the beginning of the three-month "meteorological summer," Johnson noted a brief hot spell followed by nearly a week of occasionally heavy rain and then a "memorable heat wave" that finally ended on July 24.
Since then, "it’s been a flip-flop into persistently cool air," he said. "But we’ll flip the switch and it will trend warmer in a couple of days,"
With highs edging into the low 80s early next week, "it’s going to feel like summer again," Johnson predicted.
While the tropics have been quiet until now, he acknowledged, that’s changing: There’s a low risk of some moisture creeping up the Eastern seaboard later next week from a potential system in the Gulf of Mexico, depending on the track it might take.
At the same time, Tropical Storm Erin is developing in the eastern Atlantic off the west African coast, but it’s a week away from the U.S. mainland and it’s too early to predict its future strength and destination, Johnson said.
Although no record highs were set in the Berkshires this summer, mid-July saw four days of near or just above 90-degree heat, making Floridians here for the season feel right at home while many locals flocked to lakes and swimming pools for a cooldown.
But, for nearly all of the past 22 days, cool daytime breezes and chilly overnights have felt more like early autumn than the proverbial dog days of August. During that three-week period, the temperature in Pittsfield hit 80 only once, on Aug. 8.
On Thursday, the predawn low of 47 was only three degrees shy of the all-time record for the date, 44, set in 1961. The normal high in mid-August at the National Weather Service’s Pittsfield Airport station is 78, with a low of 56.
Nighttime outdoor concertgoers in the Berkshires have donned hoodies, sweaters and shawls while joking about hauling parkas out of the closet.
But warm-weather buffs can cheer up, with some humidity along with highs in the low 80s likely beginning Monday, though no rerun of the early summer hot spell is foreseen.
At the risk of rushing the season, AccuWeather.com issued its fall forecast on Thursday, calling for an easy transition for the Northeast into November.
"The transition from summer to fall will be a breeze for the Northeast as temperatures will average above normal for the region," according to Paul Pastelok, the private forecaster’s long-range senior meteorologist.
Through September and October, temperatures will average 2 to 3 degrees above normal in New England and upstate New York, a significant but not extreme departure from seasonal averages, Pastelok said.
No wintry weather is foreseen until late November, although predictions for 90 days from now are subject to major revision.
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