Summer's steamy last stand sent temperatures and humidity soaring on Wednesday, with record-tying highs at the peak of a short-lived hot spell. Countywide, it was the hottest Sept. 11 in 30 years.
While some Berkshirites frolicked at lakesides and in backyard pools on what was likely to be the last beach day of the season, others sweltered uncomfortably in the unseasonably murky air even as the first, scattered flashes of fall color appeared on ridge-line maples.
The 90-degree high set at 3 p.m. at Pittsfield Municipal Airport tied the previous record for the date set in 1983. At the same hour, a 91-degree high was recorded at Harriman and West Airport in North Adams, where high and low temperature records are not kept. Unofficial mid-afternoon highs of 92 were reported by weather observers in Great Barrington, Cheshire and Williamstown.
Wednesday's high was the county's first 90-degree day since July 20, when the season's maximum of 91 marked the end of a nearly four-week, early-summer hot spell.
The average mid-September temperatures in Pittsfield range from a low of 49 to a high of 71, based on 75 years of records at the airport.
Relief from the heat is on the doorstep as the leading edge of much cooler air sets its sights on the county, with arrival likely by early Friday morning following some noisy atmospheric fireworks.
At the National Weather Service's Albany, N.Y., office, meteorologist Joe Villani's outlook called for numerous showers and thunderstorms to develop today, with a potential for heavy rain as weather disturbances track along the cold front bearing down on the region from Ontario, Canada.
There's the possibility for several inches of rain. Any severe storms that develop will depend on if much sun breaks through the cloud cover on Thursday, allowing temperatures to reach the 80s.
With tropical, humid air in place, the stage would be set for potentially damaging winds and hail, according to Alex Sosnowski, senior forecaster at AccuWeather.com.
The weekend should be ideal for outdoor activities such as Sunday's 37th annual Great Josh Billings RunAground triathlon, with early-morning lows in the 40s and highs in 60s with mostly clear skies. The cool snap is expected to linger well into next week.
To contact Clarence Fanto:
or (413) 637-2551.
On Twitter: @BE_cfanto