After the deluge…more deluge?
Although we’re not out of the tropical rain forest just yet, the week ahead appears to be much less dreary than the near-daily torrents that have swamped not only the Berkshires but most of the Northeast this month.
A friend here for the summer from Boston asked me when the sun might return. I assured her that cameo appearances are for certain starting Monday, while Thursday and next weekend may be totally rain-free. No hot spells are in sight, with temperatures in the comfort zone, mid-70s or lower during the day and mid-50s to low-60s overnight.
July is certain to go into the record books for rainfall. Before the National Weather Service’s automated observation station at Pittsfield Municipal Airport conked out during a severe thunderstorm Saturday evening, it had recorded nearly 8 inches of rain for the month, with two weeks to go. Average rainfall for the full month is 4.25 inches.
It could have been a lightening strike, said NWS meteorologist Brett Rathbun on Sunday, “but we’re not entirely sure what caused it.” Data recovery efforts are underway, he added.
The airport recorded 11.7 inches of rain in July 2009, Rathbun confirmed, and 9.3 inches in 2014. Based on the first half of the month, already this is the fifth-wettest July on record in Pittsfield.
Once the weather station data is restored, it’s a good bet that the total through Sunday would be 9 or even 10 inches. At Harriman & West Airport in North Adams, where the automated station kept operating, an inch of rain fell on Saturday night. Pittsfield and points south recorded more than that, according to weather observers.
“It will be a little quieter this week,” Rathbun agreed, “nothing extremely heavy compared to recent rainfall.”
He blames the torrential weather pattern on a consistent southerly wind flow from the Gulf of Mexico, feeding tropical moisture into the Northeast, enhanced earlier this month by the side effects of Tropical Storm Elsa.
From June 30 through July 15, according to NewsChannel 13 and WAMC Northeast Public Radio meteorologist Paul Caiano, the near-daily deluge at Tanglewood has dumped nearly 9.5 inches, more than double the previous 4.5-inch record in 1997. Caiano is the weather consultant for the Boston Symphony’s summer home.
On Monday, any showers or thunderstorms should be isolated or scattered, with only a 30 percent chance in the Berkshires, the National Weather Service predicts. There should be plenty of sunshine breaking through — especially in the afternoon — with seasonable highs near 80, but still humid.
Warmer on Tuesday into the low 80s, and still a 30 percent chance of showers; ditto on Wednesday, though slightly cooler and a greater likelihood of late-day showers. Thursday should be in the clear, with Friday looking nice with just a slight chance of rain. As of now, next weekend looks to be the best we’ve had since mid-June.
The extended outlook from the government’s Climate Prediction Center for the final week of July: Temperatures and rainfall below normal.
The Deep South, especially along the Gulf of Mexico coast, is awash in heavy rainfall, while the summer monsoon is in full swing across the Southwest, with thunderstorms and plenty of rainfall.
The dog days of summer are continuing across the Northern Plains, with record-tying highs well into the triple digits in eastern Montana and the lower elevations of the Intermountain West.
During the week, heat will extend into the Upper Midwest as high pressure remains anchored over or near the central Rockies. The eastern U.S. should see near- to below-normal temperatures. Another period of enhanced monsoonal rainfall will be possible over the Four Corners states after midweek. The Northeast coast and mountains look mostly dry and relatively cool next weekend.