The Outlook: Rain likely to come again some other day this week

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"Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language." — Henry James

By Clarence Fanto

The rainfall was hit or miss, until Sunday afternoon's severe thunderstorms walloped much of Berkshire County, providing some much-needed drought relief along with multiple lightning flashes and ear-splitting thunderclaps.

Still, we remain at only 55 percent of normal rainfall for the month, with two days remaining. And for the full half-year, just 75 percent of average rain and melted snow has been measured at Pittsfield Municipal Airport.

The U.S. Drought Monitor put much of interior New England and eastern New York into the moderate drought category last week, pointing out that stream flows are much below normal — less than 10 percent of typical late June levels — and current soil moisture is between 10 and 20 percent of average.

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The week ahead shapes up as "unsettled" — the forecasters' shorthand for maybe it will rain where you are, and maybe not.

A weak upper-air storm system is stuck over our region, and the best chance of significant rain appears to be on Wednesday and again on Friday, the legally observed holiday, while Saturday — Independence Day — could be the sunniest day of the week. Temperatures should be around average, ranging from 60 overnight to near 80 in the afternoons.

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Elsewhere, the Saharan dust storm continues to blanket Florida with haze and poor air quality, along with vivid sunrises and sunsets. Heat could set records this week in the Sunshine State, with upper 90s expected in some areas.

Critical-risk and red-flag warnings for wildfires are up for parts of California and the Southwest due to gusty winds and low humidity.

Parts of the Arctic, especially Siberia, are "warming much faster than we thought," according to Jonathan Overpeck, dean of the University of Michigan environmental college. "The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire, in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires. Alarm bells should be ringing."

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What happens in the Arctic can warp the climate in the U.S., with stalled weather systems caused by a distorted jet stream.

"The key point is that the climate is changing," said Freja Vamborg, senior scientist at the Copernicus Climate Change Service in the U.K. "We will be breaking more and more records as we go."

"What is clear is that the warming Arctic adds fuel to the warming of the whole planet," Waleed Abdalati, a former NASA chief scientist who is now at the University of Colorado pointed out.

Information from the Associated Press was included in this report.

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


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