Relief from heat on the way

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"Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well." —George R.R. Martin ("A Game of Thrones," 1996 novel)

By Clarence Fanto

Berkshire Eagle correspondent

If you've been feeling like this has been an especially hot, stifling summer so far, here's the proof:

Temperatures have been above normal every day since June 27, often to an extreme. So, a full 30 days off-the-charts, with sweltering humidity, frequent pop-up thunderstorms, and still not enough rain to take the region out of an official moderate drought.

However, later this week, we can look forward to some of the best midsummer weather of this season - but first, another oppressive scorcher on Monday, with a good chance of tying this year's previous high of 93 at Pittsfield Municipal Airport on July 19. The record for July 27 (90 set in 1969) could easily be shattered.

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The leading edge of cooler air approaching from the Great Lakes is on a collision course with the region's tropical air mass, with expected arrival on Tuesday along with a 50-50 chance of thunderstorms. While widespread heavy rainfall is not anticipated, any thunderstorms will be capable of producing locally heavy downpours.

Starting Wednesday and continuing into next weekend, overworked air conditioners can shut down as overnights cool down to around 60, while daytime highs peak around 80 with comfortable humidity. We're midway through the warmest three weeks of the year, with a normal high of 79 and low of 57. The monthly average is running 6 degrees above normal, a near-record deviation.

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Nationally, a quiet week is ahead for most areas, with temperatures near normal except for extreme heat and humidity in the Southeast, including Florida, and the Gulf Coast. Currently, there are no indications of new tropical storm development for the next few days.

Looking to the first week of August, the Northeast should return to above-average heat, while rainfall continues below normal for the entire region, according to the government's usually reliable Climate Prediction Center.

Globally, dramatic climate change impacts continue in Siberia, with exceptional heat fanning devastating fires in the Arctic Circle and contributing to a rapid depletion in ice sea off Russia's Arctic coast.

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"The Arctic is heating more than twice as fast as the global average, impacting local populations and ecosystems and with global repercussions," according to a statement from the World Meteorological Organization on Friday.

The 93-nation consortium based in Geneva, Switzerland, cited a recent study by top climate scientists who found that such extreme heat would have been nearly impossible without human-caused climate change. They stated that the heat triggered widespread wildfires, and the thawing of permafrost which led to a massive pipeline oil spill.

Thawing permafrost also has the potential to release huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped under the frozen ground, which could then worsen the warming, the report pointed out.

"The climate of the future is very different as this study shows," said Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor David Titley, who wasn't part of the research. "We can either adapt or suffer."

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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