If you think the hot spell endured by the Berkshires and most of the Northeast has been the worst and longest in many years, you’re right.
Not since a one-week heat wave in 2001 and an even longer one in 1983 have temperatures here soared near and above 90 so many times in one season, according to Eagle archives and the National Weather Service database.
But there’s cool comfort heading our way. The leading edge of a drier, less overheated air mass from Canada passed through the county Tuesday afternoon. But it’s just a tease — a more dramatic chill-down is due late on Thursday, resulting in a weekend of seasonable highs in the upper 70s and pleasant northwesterly breezes.
Still, there’s no relief in sight from the intensifying drought that has triggered water-use restrictions in Pittsfield, Adams and Williamstown so far, with more communities likely to follow suit as reservoir levels drop.
Although hit-and-miss thunderstorms are likely over the next few days, especially on Thursday, any significant, beneficial and widespread rainfall would be highly localized, according to the government forecast office in Albany, N.Y.
Although Tuesday was less hot, with an 11 a.m. high of 82 in Pittsfield before cooler air arrived, the weather service maintained a heat advisory through 8 p.m. for South Berkshire.
Mainly clear skies are expected for Wednesday as temperatures turn a bit lower and tropical moisture fades. Additional scattered showers and storms return Thursday before much cooler and less humid conditions finally arrive.
With a cooler Canadian airmass locked in on Friday and through the weekend, temperatures will be very pleasant, forecasters stated, with highs near to slightly below normal in the upper 70s, and overnight lows in the 50s.
So far this summer, the high at Pittsfield Municipal Airport has hit 90 or above four times in July and three times this month, AccuWeather.com reported, based on government data. From this Friday through Aug. 22, no highs above 80 are predicted.
As AccuWeather pointed out, there have been no Atlantic hurricanes so far this season, and no named storms since a weak tropical system fizzled just before July 4.
“A significant lull during the Atlantic hurricane season is rare but by no means unheard of,” Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzback pointed out in an online post. There have been four other times over the past 30 years in which the Atlantic basin has been free of storm activity between July 3 and Aug. 8 — 1993, 1999, 2000, and 2009.
Last year, four named storms were spawned during the month of August, including the powerful Hurricane Ida that devastated communities from Louisiana to New Jersey at the tail end of the month. A year earlier, the devastating Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. And in 2019, Hurricane Dorian, one of the basin’s strongest-ever hurricanes, formed in late August before making its destructive landfall in the Bahamas on Sept. 1 of that year.
All of which is to say that people should not let their guard down, AccuWeather forecasters caution.
“August comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion in terms of tropical activity,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski stated, invoking the old expression used to describe the weather extremes during March.
Forecasters still predict the season will have an above-average number of named storms when the final tally is in.