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Saturday, August 9, 2014

July 2014: Warm and sunny with a rainfall rebound

Doug Webster

Summer 2014 has certainly been admirable so far with a higher than average number of sunny, pleasing days and a noted lack of steamy, sultry conditions. July has followed the lead of June by featuring more fine weather for vacationers and bringing a rebound in rainfall after a dry June.

The only fly in the ointment came on of all days the July 4th holiday when Hurricane Arthur set off its’ own set of fireworks in the form of a steady, sometimes pelting rain during the time when human fireworks would normally take place. ...

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Summer 2014 has certainly been admirable so far with a higher than average number of sunny, pleasing days and a noted lack of steamy, sultry conditions. July has followed the lead of June by featuring more fine weather for vacationers and bringing a rebound in rainfall after a dry June.

The only fly in the ointment came on of all days the July 4th holiday when Hurricane Arthur set off its’ own set of fireworks in the form of a steady, sometimes pelting rain during the time when human fireworks would normally take place.

Arthur developed off the coast of Florida before becoming a minimal hurricane and tracking northward off of the East Coast. Arthur stayed east of Cape Cod and eventually moved into the Canadian Maritimes where considerable wind damage took place across New Brunswick.

The wind field of significance from the storm stayed to our east and southeast across Cape Cod but the rainfall pattern did expand to cover most of central and eastern New Hampshire as the storm raced by.

So far during summer 2014, the weekend weather has been remarkably nice. Even the spoiled July 4th holiday was followed by a beautiful weekend. Showers and thundershowers have been kind enough to wet down our lawns during the work week or at night.

Sunshine was again above average across the region with Blue Hill Observatory recording 63 percent of the possible sun versus a normal of 57 percent. Blue Hill Observatory in Milton, Mass., is the nearest location to Nashua that records sunshine data. Observations taken in Hudson during July only show 5 cloudy days, about half of what we might expect to see.

The reasons for our fine summer weather to date are basically the same ones that brought us the cold, snowy winter. The upper level wind patterns continue to feature a trough across the central and eastern U.S. which allows episodes of summer polar air to make their way southward. During the winter season these would have been surges of bitter arctic air.

Blocking upper level high pressure areas at high latitudes are keeping the jet stream further south than normal and preventing the subtropical ridge from gaining strength. This is why heat waves and hot, humid weather have been mostly absent from the central and eastern U.S. this summer.

During the spring and early summer many climate models had been predicting a moderate strength El Nino to get started by late summer and fall. Latest observed data from the tropical Pacific is indicating that the El Nino may be fizzling and a neutral state ENSO or very weak El Nino may be what we see for the fall and winter instead.

This could fuel the fire for another winter like last since many of the pieces of the puzzle that created last winter’s cold and snow across the nation are still in place across the Northern Hemisphere.

A weak El Nino or neutral ENSO condition would only fit right in with what we saw just 6 months ago.

Computer models that make such forecasts months and years in advance are unproven and quite unreliable. A steady global warming trend that began in the late 1970s was forecast to continue well into this century but ended in 1998. Temperatures have been in a steady state phase for the past 17 years, a failed climate model forecast.

Temperatures as recorded at Nashua’s Pennichuck Water Works averaged out to a mean of 72.6 degrees during July. This value is 1.6 degrees above normal and ranks in a tie for the 23rd warmest July since 1885. July saw 4 days when temperatures reached the 90 degree mark, the first 4 days of the year. 90 degrees days have been lacking not only in the local area this summer but all across the central and eastern U.S. where heat waves have been hard to find.

Through the third week of July, the Midwest set a record for the least number of 90-degree days for the year to date since record keeping began.

Rainfall totaled 4.22 inches at our Nashua recording site, a surplus of 0.34 inches making July the 39th wettest mid-
summer month since 1884.

After our early month tussle with Arthur we saw a few showers or thunderstorms develop along passing cold fronts every few days.

This type of rainfall was quite beneficial for farmers and gardeners bringing back green lawns and watering summer crops.

So far August has brought more fine summer weather with humidity staying down and temperatures mostly pleasing. August has been home to some of the longer heat waves on record but currently there is no hot weather on the horizon for our region.

The “dog days of summer” are named for the occasional stretches of August weather with light winds, hazy skies, and hot, humid weather. While hot, humid weather isn’t out of the ordinary, we see many less hazy days than were recorded a couple of generations ago due to the Clean Air Act of 1970. It’s time to do away with the term “3 H weather” and call it more accurately “2 H weather.”

August also sees the average daily temperature decline at a quickened pace as the month grows older. The day length also becomes noticeably shorter. Hurricanes can make an occasional visit to our area, but rarely produce major damage. Just 3 years Tropical Storm Irene brought heavy rain and gusty winds to the area.

Weather & Climate appears the first or second Saturday of the month depending on weather data availability. Doug Webster, of Hudson, is a senior meteorologist at DTN/The Progressive Farmer, a division of Schneider Electric in Andover, Mass.