We can’t seem to catch a break for more than a day at a time this summer. Saturday deserves a nomination for best so far, while Sunday, though overcast, remained dry and comfortable — at least into the mid-afternoon.
But the week ahead threatens another bout with monsoon-like rainfall, tropical humidity, and a brief hot spell, though topping out under 90.
Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albany expect heavy rain at times along and north of the Interstate 90 into Monday afternoon. A flash flood watch issued for southern Vermont and adjacent upstate New York counties may be extended into the Berkshires.
A boundary between cool air to the north and heat to the south is stalling right over our region, causing the rainy outlook. Because of ground moisture from the past week’s torrential downpours, some local flooding is possible, especially if rainfall totals 1.5 inches or more.
Worth noting: Rainfall from June 29 to July 9 at Pittsfield Municipal Airport has totaled 5.9 inches. At Harriman & West Airport in North Adams, the rain gauge measured 7.3 inches, while longtime weather observer Nick Diller checked in with an astounding total of 7.9 inches in Great Barrington.
The long-term average for the entire month of July in Pittsfield is just over 4 inches, so we may see some records shattered if the on-and-off deluge persists.
The rest of the week looks hit-or-miss, with washouts unlikely as chances of showers and thunderstorms vary from 40 to 60 percent likelihood. Wednesday should be an active day for rainfall and potential storms, while Thursday should be the week’s warmest and sunniest. As for next weekend, it’s unpredictable, but no need to cancel outdoor plans at this point.
The Climate Prediction Center’s long-range outlook for western New England calls for continued above-normal temperatures and rainfall through next weekend, then warm and drier after July 20.
The miserable stretch of record-breaking heat continues this week out West, especially for California and lower elevations of Arizona and Nevada.
In California, Palm Springs recorded 120 degrees on Saturday and Sacramento reached 113. Death Valley hit 130 — just four degrees shy of the world’s highest temperature recorded in 1913, though some scientists are disputing it.
This weekend, authorities urged residents to conserve electricity as the extreme conditions continue to tax the state’s power grid, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Coastal cities and communities enjoyed relief with cool ocean breezes — the high in Los Angeles was a pleasant 85.
Last month was the hottest June on record in North America, with more than 1,200 daily temperature records broken in the final week alone. There was minimal relief after dark since nights are warming faster than days across most of the U.S., reflecting a global trend fueled by climate change.
“What’s making the news is the highs, but nighttime minimums have an impact on mortality,” said Lara Cushing, a environmental health scientist at UCLA. More nighttime temperature records were broken this June than in any previous June on record.
“Of all the extreme weather events, heat waves are the most directly related to climate change,” said meteorologist Alexander Gershunov at the University of California, San Diego. He views climate change as the “steroids” behind heat waves.
The recent bout of extreme heat in Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia in Canada killed nearly 600 people.
Marine life was shattered as dead mussels and clams coated rocks in the Pacific Northwest, their shells gaping open as if they’d been boiled, according to The New York Times. Sea stars were baked to death. Sockeye salmon swam sluggishly in an overheated Washington river, prompting wildlife officials to truck them to cooler areas.
“It just feels like one of those post-apocalyptic movies,” said Christopher Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia who studies the effects of climate change on coastal marine ecosystems.
He estimated losses for the mussels alone in the hundreds of millions. Factoring in the other creatures that live in the mussel beds and on the shore — barnacles, hermit crabs and other crustaceans, various worms, tiny sea cucumbers — puts the deaths at easily over a billion, he said.
Such extreme weather conditions will become more frequent and intense, scientists say, as climate change, driven by humans burning fossil fuels, wreaks havoc on animals and humans alike. A study by an international team of climate researchers found it would have been virtually impossible for such extremes to occur without global warming.
“I want to find the positives, but it’s pretty overwhelming right now,” said Harley. “Because if we become too depressed or too overwhelmed, we won’t keep trying. And we need to keep trying.”
One more climate note: Unusual heat above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia, Russia and Canada has led to rapid melting of the Arctic Ocean sea ice. The ice level is currently among the lowest on record for this time of year, the World Meteorological Organization reported.