The Outlook: Hot, wet air through the week

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"Weather is a literary specialty, and no untrained hand can turn out a good article on it." — Mark Twain

The heat is on and off, the drought is definitely on, and Tropical Storm Fay was a "washout," so to speak, dropping barely a half-inch of rain at Pittsfield Municipal Airport.

That was far short of the 1 to 2 inches predicted before the storm weakened considerably as it passed overhead early Saturday. So, it's more than likely that a wide portion of the inland Northeast, including the Berkshires, will remain in a moderate drought, as defined by the team of government agencies and University of Nebraska experts that prepare the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The week ahead promises a typical mid-July steam bath of high humidity and numerous showers and thunderstorms, especially on Monday, Thursday and Friday, although the thermometer will hold down the discomfort level.

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Temperatures have been above normal for 24 straight days, with one exception on June 27, and we've set two record highs in Pittsfield — 91 on June 20 and 90 last Thursday.

At least for the next four days, the Berkshires will narrowly escape the heat dome encompassing much of the nation, with daytime highs near 80, average for this time of the year, but not much nighttime cooling.

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Texas, the Southwest and the southern High Plains are baking, with record-shattering highs of 110 to 120 (actual air temperature, not the so-called Real Feel of commercial forecasters that needlessly exaggerates the heat wave — AccuWeather and many TV forecasters, we're looking at you).

The high-pressure heat mass is parked right over Kansas, so folks may be wanting to get out of Dodge to avoid a meltdown.

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By next weekend, extreme heat is likely from the Rockies to the East Coast; depending on the undulations of the jet stream, western New England will be right on the edge of 90 to 95 degree heat.

But we're catching a break over the next few days, compared to deep-fried states to our south and west, so our recreation-minded locals and visitors should have clear sailing, while outdoor diners should beware of potential late-day thunderstorms.

We do need a good drenching, but ideally between midnight and dawn's early light.

The Outlook is today's look ahead at the week's weather, its impact on the Berkshires and beyond. Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.


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