Summer of 2014: No sweat; or at least not much

A cloud passes over Camden at the site of the old Campbell plant. Strong storms are possible early next week, but overall, the weather should be mild.
A cloud passes over Camden at the site of the old Campbell plant. Strong storms are possible early next week, but overall, the weather should be mild. (ED HILLE / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 13, 2014

Approaching the heart of what historically is the hottest period of the summer, Philadelphia has yet to record a single heat-related death. In fact, the city still hasn't issued a heat "warning."

Thus far, the region has had only one official "heat wave" - and that one made it on a mere technicality.

In years past, summer has been rush hour at the Philadelphia Corp. for Aging (PCA), a nexus for heat emergencies. But so far the agency hasn't once activated its "heatline," part of the city's heat-wave response system.

And the fearsome "polar vortex" evidently is about to go bipolar: Blamed for unprecedented winter snows, with its intrusion next week, an outbreak of seriously comfortable weather is in the forecast.

"Mother Nature is making up for wintertime," said Gary Szatkowski, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.

"It's really amazing," said PCA's Linda Riley.

Why the good fortune? The peculiar behavior of the atmosphere that took hold in winter has lapped into summer, said Michael Musher, meteorologist at the government's Weather Prediction Center, in Silver Spring, Md.

"The weather pattern has been a month or two behind schedule," he said, noting that winter intruded well into spring. For all that extra snow shoveling, however, the seasonal slowdown hasn't been all bad.

Musher said the onset of the severe-storm season was delayed, and no tornado deaths were recorded in February or March, according to the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. In April, 35 deaths were reported; by contrast, in April 2011, 363, were killed.

In the last 10 days, the Philadelphia region has had its share of violent weather, and meteorologists warn that strong storms are possible early next week as another modest round of heat gets routed.

Overall, however, in terms of temperature, the summer has been quite benign. Philadelphia's only heat wave - technically defined as three consecutive days of 90-plus temperatures - occurred July 1 to 3, the latest-occurring first hot spell in seven years.

While temperatures have averaged slightly above normal since June 1, no heat has lasted long enough for the city to call an all-out "excessive heat warning," said Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran.

After Tuesday, highs during the workweek are expected to crest in the low 80s, as a piece of the polar vortex, that swirling upper-air mass, plunges into the contiguous United States. This time, it will show its kinder side in the Philadelphia region, as it chases away heat.

Said Musher, "It's going to be quite refreshing."


610-313-8210

twood@phillynews.com

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