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Summer’s now in its final six weeks. But cooling breezes have to wait until Wednesday.

Heat

Rowboats full of kids from a local camp make their way across quiet waters Wednesday on the Stockbridge Bowl. After a brief respite on Friday because of cloud cover, this weekend will offer more highs near 90.

Summer is far from over, even though August often seems like the last hurrah.

We’ve lost an hour of daylight since the June 21 solstice, but for heat and tropical humidity, the season was a late bloomer. Following a 92-degree high on Thursday, there’s little if any chance of any refreshing breezes until a cooler air mass finally arrives late Tuesday or on Wednesday.

After a brief respite on Friday because of cloud cover, this weekend will offer more highs near 90, significant humidity, and a chance of thundershowers each day, continuing through Tuesday.

Any beneficial rain, without damaging lightning strikes and straight-line winds, would be most welcome as a moderate drought has now enveloped more of the Berkshires, except for North County.

Sunday will be the hottest day of the weekend, with highs around or slightly above 90. Heat-fueled thunderstorms with brief gusty winds are possible over the next four afternoons because of the humid air mass, but the National Weather Service in Albany, N.Y., foresees only low probabilities of a severe threat. Nights will be muggy as lows only fall into the upper 60s.

After another bout of heat and humidity on Monday, the leading edge of Canadian air will pass through late Tuesday or early Wednesday, followed by a welcome cool-down for the rest of the week.

The outlook for Aug. 12-18 from the government’s Climate Prediction Center indicates above normal temperatures and near normal rainfall for western Massachusetts.

Drought update

The statewide drought intensified this week, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, spreading to the New York metro region, including New Jersey, and New England states south and north of Massachusetts. Water use restrictions and farming impacts were becoming common across these regions as dry conditions continued for another week.

Expanding areas of mild to moderate drought now encompass all of western New England, the Taconics, mid-Hudson Valley and the Capital District of New York. Any rainfall over the next several days will be largely beneficial except for possible isolated, localized flooding from downpours associated with thunderstorms.

National overview 

Later this weekend, cooler air will spread into the Pacific Northwest, reducing the fire threat across the northern Rockies to the northern High Plains. Until then, Red Flag warnings remain for parts of Oregon and northern California.

Elsewhere, the heat dome is expected to remain in place, except for the Northern Plains and the upper Midwest, where the advance of cooler Canadian air will relieve the heat.

During the week, potentially heavy rain and thunderstorms are predicted across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys toward the Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes region and northern New England, eventually reaching the Eastern Seaboard and the Southeast by next weekend.

Monsoonal moisture should persist across portions of the Southwest and Rockies, especially near the Colorado-New Mexico border, leading to additional heavy rainfall as the week progresses.

Very warm to hot temperatures are forecast to shift from the Northwest Monday into the northern and then central Plains as the work week progresses.

Farther east, slightly above average highs in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions early in the week will moderate to right around normal behind the leading edge of cooler air. Given the rainfall and cloudiness over the Southwest and Great Basin, highs are likely to be several degrees below normal.

Climate report

Tropical Storm Fred — which hit the Southeast hardest last August but also affected the Northeast — and its aftermath became one of the 20 “billion-dollar” weather and climate disasters tracked by the U.S. government last year — a collection of calamities that cost the nation an estimated $145 billion and killed nearly 700 people.

“They are not slowing down,” Adam Smith, the government’s lead scientist for analyzing billion-dollar disasters, told the Washington Post. This mounting toll, which scientists say is driven in part because the world is warming, is forcing hard questions about who bears the burden of paying for them and how the nation can better prepare for what lies ahead.

Ordinary Americans, often without adequate insurance, and local governments alike are ill-prepared for the sudden financial shocks such disasters can inflict. And elected leaders are scrambling to reinforce aging infrastructure built not only for a different century, but also for an earlier era of risks.

Summer is hosting some of the most costly annual disasters, including powerful hurricanes, seemingly endless droughts, sprawling wildfires and torrential rainstorms that fuel the sort of flooding St. Louis and eastern Kentucky recently endured. 

A recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration analysis stated that climate change is “supercharging the increasing frequency and intensity of certain types of extreme weather that lead to billion-dollar disasters — most notably the rise in vulnerability to drought, lengthening wildfire seasons in the western states, and the potential for extremely heavy rainfall becoming more common in the eastern states. Sea level rise is worsening hurricane storm surge flooding.”

Last year marked the seventh consecutive year in which the U.S. experienced 10 or more separate billion-dollar disasters. According to NOAA, the annual cost of such events has risen, with the 2010s proving “far costlier” than the several decades that preceded it.

While ongoing development in disaster-prone areas and Americans’ push to live near the coasts contribute, “climate change is the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” Smith asserted.

Material from the Washington Post was included in the Climate Report. The Outlook is today's look ahead at the weather this weekend and next week, including its impact on the Berkshires and beyond. Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com

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