PA summer outlook recap...

By: Zachary Labe , 12:06 AM GMT on August 30, 2008

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Summer Outlook (2008)...


(2007 Summer thunderstorm damage to my next-door neighbors)

First Thoughts...
Well it is hard to believe that summer is almost here. The winter seemed to fly by, and now already it is mid April with 80degree temperatures. Buds on trees are appearing, with tulips already at full bloom here in the southern half of Pennsylvania. Grass is green around the area even though the recent lack of rain. Vegetables gardens have all cool season crops in the ground. Mountains reappearing with color instead of the dull, brown which coats the mountains all winter. Already oriental trees have peaked and starting to bud back to normal leaves that stay all summer. And also already the first taste of severe weather has hit parts of Pennsylvania with some small hail and some minor wind damage. Thunderstorms have been pretty common across the state with many areas having already seen 3-5 thunderstorms. Local parks are busy during dusk with baseball games and other sports. It sure is looking like Spring. But already almost a month into Spring, Summer is right around the corner coupled with severe weather and extreme heat. With global warming activists causing all the stir about rising temperatures, many people fear another dangerously hot summer is looming. But in my outlook I do not really see another sweltering summer this year.

Revisiting typical summer time weather threats...
Well just a quick review on some of the dangers of weather that people face in the summer. The three main ones are heat, severe weather, and hurricanes. Now here in Pennsylvania we really do not see any direct hits from hurricanes, just the remnants. But severe weather and heat waves can be big threats here in Pennsylvania. First about heat... When high temperatures combined with high humidity dangerous heat indexes can be reached. In the winter it is wind chill and in the summer it is heat index. The heat index is not the actual temperature but it what an animal and human feel on the skin. When the heat index reaches certain standards then advisories may be posted. Below are the thresholds for the advisories.

(Courtesy of NOAA)
Below are the official definitions from NOAA of common advisories found when severe weather strikes in the summer time...
-SEVERE THUNDERSTORM or TORNADO WATCH Severe thunderstorms with large hail, damaging winds, and/or tornadoes are possible, but the exact time and location of storm development is still uncertain. A watch means be prepared for storms.
-SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING A severe thunderstorm is imminent or occurring; it is either detected by weather radar or reported by storm spotters. A severe thunderstorm is one that produces winds 58 mph or stronger and/or hail 3/4 inch in diameter or larger. A warning means to take shelter.
-TORNADO WARNING A tornado is imminent or occurring; it is either detected by weather radar or reported by storm spotters. A warning means to take shelter.
-FLOOD WATCH Conditions are favorable for flash flooding. A watch means to get prepared for possible flooding.
-FLASH FLOOD WARNING Life-threatening flooding is imminent or occurring; it is either detected by weather radar, indicated by stream gauges, or reported by storm spotters. A flash flood is a flood that occurs very quickly; it is caused by heavy rainfall over a short period of time or from a dam break. A warning means to leave low-lying or flood prone areas.

Discussion for outlook for Summer 2008...
The major key player in the summer forecasts is the La Nina. Here is an update on the La Nina. The La Nina has weakened from strong to moderate intensity. Here are the latest SST anomalies in the central Pacific...

(Courtesy of NOAA)
These anomalies have warmed significantly and now only a small area has anomalies 1degree below normal. The cooler waters of the central Pacific are what leads to La Nina patterns. In El Nino situations it is the opposite effect in which the central Pacific is warmer than normal. Based on the latest trends the La Nina is supposed to weaken, but still continue for the next three months. Here are the latest model forecasts for three-month periods...

Typical La Nina patterns have a great effect on wintertime climate in Pennsylvania. But they do also affect the weather in the summer time. Some climatologists indicate possible trends to a weak El Nina come next fall, which may indicate a colder and snowier winter. But lets first get a hold on the summer forecast. Here are the average effects of a moderate La Nina in the June, July, and August time period...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

(Courtesy of NOAA)
The only difference I believe we will see is we will have a weak La Nina and this will bring normal to cooler than normal temperatures with average precipitation. And I know many people are concerned about more drought conditions developing in Pennsylvania during the summer, but I do not think we need to be too concerned, expect for the northwest, which will see below normal precipitation. Here is the latest drought outlook...

(Courtesy of NOAA)
Here are the official outlooks from the Climate Prediction center; they indicate a pretty average summer here in Pennsylvania.

(Courtesy of NOAA)

(Courtesy of NOAA)

My forecasts for the 2008 Summer...
Temperature- As for temperatures I believe conditions will be slightly below normal in the northwest with normal conditions across the central third of Pennsylvania. In the far southeast I believe it will be warmer than normal, mostly thanks to the urban heat island affect the Philadelphia has.

The sun is also showing signs of going into a slower sun spot cycle, which leads to cooler conditions. Now I am not saying there will not be extreme heat. Because I do believe there will be one or two heat waves (3 days of 90degree temperatures). But I do not expect any 100degree temperature weather.

Precipitation- Now I know many people are concerned about drought conditions developing again this summer. As last summer most of Pennsylvania was under a drought watch. Last summer was an unusual year because not one tropical storms' remnants moved into the area. When the remnants move into a region typically a widespread soaking rain occurs. As for this year, precipitation will be normal to slightly below normal. With the only above normal precipitation in the Laural Highlands. This is due to the busy pulse thunderstorm season in the middle of the summer.

Overall though I do not expect any widespread dry conditions anywhere across the state of Pennsylvania.

Severe Weather- As for severe weather, I do expect another busy season. The jet stream appears it may be favorable for a west of the state storm track, putting us in the warm sector creating large outbreaks of severe weather. Tornadoes may also be common too this summer. As for tropical systems, leading hurricane experts believe it may be an active year for an east coast storm track. If storms do hit the east coast they typically affect the state of Pennsylvania is some way. So be aware of this come late summer into fall.

Final thoughts...
This is an experimental outlook, and by no means going to be a fully accurate account of what the summer will bring. I do specialize in long-term forecasts for seasonal outlooks, but I decided to look at some factors and come upon an outlook. This is more of a learning experience. Come the end of Summer I will reopen this blog and take a look at what went correct, and what went wrong. This will be a reflection and help me learn to make better outlooks for the future to come. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe summer!

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26. Zachary Labe
6:50 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
dean2007- Looking at latest SSTs along the northern east coast, they are pretty chilly. If Hanna encounters any shear along its path potentially up the east coast, it will not be able to strengthen off the SSTs for the most part... Link.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
25. Zachary Labe
6:22 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
dean2007- From what I last heard is that water temperatures are below normal from the Maryland through Maine coastlines. Beaches are reporting very cool conditions. So overall I am not sure on that. Will definitely be a factor in the progression of Hanna.


***In other news I have finished my winter outlook which will be released tomorrow morning. I hope everyone stops by to read it and provide insight on what they also think the winter will be like. My next regular blog will follow by next weekend.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
24. dean2007
6:18 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
Do you think the water temps off of the Southern New England coast are warm enough to sustain a hurricane making landfall up here say going 12mph opposed to the 22mph they normally travel up here.
23. dean2007
6:18 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
Yes, Blizzard, I just saw the GFS, I guess we'll see it go back and forth.
22. Zachary Labe
4:49 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
dean2007- 12z GFS is slightly farther west with the track and has Hanna coming into the Carolinas and staying inland. But it still does affect a lot of the region with heavy rain and high winds. Next weekend looks pretty interesting for areas around here.

weathergeek5- It is messy. The NHC made a smart decision and weakened its winds to 50mph sustained. Still though the pressure is lower than it was yesterday.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
21. weathergeek5
3:03 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
At the moment Hannah looks messy!!
Member Since: December 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1744
20. dean2007
2:30 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
I believe Hanna and Ike could be back to back East Coast hurricanes. Why just a feeling I guess. Well guessing is basically what meteorologists are doing. As well though Blizzard if Hanna stays at her strength fighting through shear the next three days then I have faith in her to become a major hurricane although faith is not really the right word. However I give this a 50% chance of happening as well as a 50% of her dissipating and /or going out to sea. So the chances are even right now. This is certainly something to watch. If the high stays anchored to the east of Hanna her whole track towards the north then southern New England could very well end up with a hurricane do to the rapid movement as well as warmer then normal SSTs and the proximity of the Gulf Stream to New England. About 150 to 200 miles separate Southern New England coast from the Gulf Stream and with a rapid moving cyclone up the coast, it may not have enough time to weaken. Also a note on Gustav; it appears he will hit just to the southwest of New Orleans as a category four hurricane and is currently strengthening over the loop current in the Gulf. This is a dangerous situation and I'm glad the people are leaving the city.
19. Zachary Labe
1:20 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
weathergeek5- Here is what my NWS (CTP) says... RIGHT NOW...IT APPEARS THAT ANY
MOISTURE FROM GUSTAV WILL LIKELY PASS WEST OF PA. OPER GFS/ECMWF
DRAW REMNANTS OF HANNA UP THE EAST COAST BY SATURDAY. HOWEVER...WILL
ONLY GO WITH SLGHT CHC POPS SAT BASED ON LATEST GEFS DATA AND
INHERENT UNCERTAINTY IN A DAY 7 FCST.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
18. Zachary Labe
1:14 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
weathergeek5- Good morning!!! A lot of interesting things happening with Hanna. I have been trying to follow Hanna very closely and at this point I think this may have an impact on the weather in the Middle Atlantic. Consistently all summer the models have overestimated the strength of this ridge forecast and it does not surprise me once again that this happens. There is a lot up in the air about the forecast of this storm, but we all need to keep close watch of it as it could impact our weather.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
17. Zachary Labe
1:09 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
dean2007- Good morning!!! This morning Hanna looks very subtropical in nature. I think the NHC should have stayed with 50mph sustained winds instead of 60mph. But in anycase this will be a hard storm to predict. I do not think this storm will outdo Gustav by a category 5. Just too much in its favor not to stregthen to that major of a storm. I do think people are letting the gaurds down with this system and not monitoring it, especially those who live in the middle atlantic. At this point I like the National Hurricane Center track and think this may ride up the coast along the trough. When that shear slows down, then we will finally see some organization of the system. Speculation with forecasting is always interesting. Every forecast I make I think of the best case scenerio and worst case scenerio. I then take a consensus forecast.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
16. weathergeek5
1:05 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
This is what my local NWS says about Hannah:

WE WILL REPEAT WHAT THE PREVIOUS SHIFT WROTE ABOUT THE LONG TERM
BECAUSE IT RINGS TRUE. THERE ARE MULTIPLE PLAYERS INVOLVED AND ITS
WAY TOO EARLY TO DETERMINE OUR OUTCOME. IF I REALLY KNEW WOULD I BE
WORKING MIDS ON LABOR DAY WEEKEND.

BUT IF THE TREND IS ONE`S FRIEND, WE HAVE SEEN AN EROSION IN THE
STRENGTH OF THE BLOCKING RIDGE. THIS IS APPARENT WHEN A COUPLE OF
DAYS AGO MOST OF THE MODELS FORCED HANNA TO THE SOUTHWEST AND INTO
THE GULF OF MEXICO. THIS IS CURRENTLY NOT TRUE. EVEN THE ECMWF IS
SHOWING A WEAKER RIDGE TREND. THE SECOND IS THE CLOSED LOW SOUTH OF
THE MARITIMES. THE FASTER IT DEPARTS, THE FASTER THE MIDDLE ATLANTIC
RIDGE CAN BUILD WESTWARD AND MAKE SURE THAT HANNA DOES NOT ESCAPE
STAGE RIGHT. THIS RIDGE COULD ALSO KEEP 97L AND 98L FROM BEING
FISH STORMS. WHILE THE GFS LED THE WAY LAST NIGHT WITH A GULFLESS
SOLUTION FOR HANNA, IT REMAINS ON THE EASTERN ENVELOPE OF MODEL
OUTPUT. ITS DOUBTFUL THAT THE RIDGING WILL SHIELD US COMPLETELY THIS
TIME.
PLEASE REFER TO TPC BULLETINS FOR THE OFFICIAL TRACK FORECAST.

What are your thoughts? I know anything beyond 3-5 is just pure speculation.
Member Since: December 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1744
15. dean2007
1:01 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
Also the 6z GFS this morning has an 1000mb tropical storm hitting Cape Cod, MA. I guess rains will really be the main issue unless it gets stronger then what the GFS is saying. A consensus of the HWRF and GFDL is likely with peak intensity of 117 knots (GFDL) and a pressure of 949mb (HWRF) seems reasonable for peak intensity. Could she get to a five and out do Gustav, that is far away in time and we just have to get through the next three days before we can be certain she will affect anyone besides the Bahamas and Cuba. Speculation is fun sometimes.
14. dean2007
12:59 PM GMT on August 31, 2008
Hanna currently looks like a lop sided sheared storm still with dry air entrainment on the southeast quadrant. LLC is not evident and is under the clouds currently so position is unknown to the weary eye. However the NHC seems worried about her in the 72 hour period and beyond. They think she can rapidly strengthen as soon as the trough moves by and the northerly shear decreases. Of course this setup only happens if she is still intact.
13. Zachary Labe
12:34 AM GMT on August 31, 2008
***So overall I think my forecast was relatively satisfactory. Based on temperatures I think was my strongest forecast. Temperatures officially in June and July in the Philadelphia area were above normal with August below normal. So my call for above normal temperatures went pretty well. Elsewhere temperatures averaged below normal to normal. For precipitation most areas were normal to below normal. My call for above normal in the Laural Highlands did not pan out, and also I should have had below normal conditions across eastern Pennsylvania. For northern Pennsylvania they are considered in a short-term drought so my call for below normal precipitation went well. Elsewhere for the most part precipitation was just slightly below normal. Now I know this is not very scientific, but I do not have the time this weekend to do any actual temperature averages. In any case I am relatively pleased with my forecast. My major error was I should have called for below normal precipitation in eastern Pennsylvania.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
12. Zachary Labe
7:16 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
I took a nice hike today at one of Pennsylvania's newer state parks, Joseph E. Ibberson Conservation Area. For those familiar with the Harrisburg, PA area it straddles Peter's Mountain. Here is a link to more information... Link.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
11. Zachary Labe
6:51 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
weathergeek5- Ugh, do even not mention Fay, lol. One of these days the northern sections of the east coast will get hit by a major hurricane, but at this point I just do not think the pattern allows a storm to approach the region. Just too many troughs and blocking highs.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
10. weathergeek5
4:38 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
We found this out with fay! When i hear one of these hype forecasts I interpret as it will do the opposite of what they forecast. I do have a gut feeling that one may skirt nearby But that is my "gut" feeling.
Member Since: December 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1744
9. Zachary Labe
4:09 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
weathergeek5- It makes me extremely mad. Accuweather is known around these parts to always make hype forecasting. Yes steering currents will change a lot with surface patterns. And timing with surface features needs to be near perfect for certain conditions to occur like an east coast hurricane. There is no way I believe of accurately predicting tropical systems 3 or more days out.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
8. weathergeek5
3:35 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
I know we have to watch the path of 97L. However I always hate it when a certain weather company starts saying the east coast should watch out for hurricanes. The steering currents could and will change when a possible storm is 10 or more days out. What are your thoughts concerning this?
Member Since: December 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1744
7. Zachary Labe
2:32 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
weathergeek5- Good morning!!! I was looking at the GFS and it showed the remnants of at least one of the storms heading up over Pennsylvania. Also there is a wave in the western Atlantic right off the coast of Africa which will soon be tropical storm Ike. This storm is a long way off, but needs to be watched as timing with an eastern trough could threaten the east coast with this storm. A lot of interesting things going on right now.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
6. weathergeek5
2:27 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
Good morning Bliz. My summer was the run of the mill summer until August when we got those severe storms. Did you see that some computer models are saying Hannah could come up the east coast? This storm's long range forecast is pretty much impossible as the computer models look as those noodles were dropped on the map. I have been watching Gustave.
Member Since: December 25, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 1744
5. Zachary Labe
1:48 PM GMT on August 30, 2008
JDinWPA- Good morning!!! Summer precipitation is always hard to predict because of the spotty nature of the majority of rainfall in the summer months, thunderstorms. I probably went most wrong in the precipitation area for eastern Pennsylvania in which is was drier than normal. Elsewhere it was around normal.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
4. JDinWPA
2:06 AM GMT on August 30, 2008
Hi Bliz. Well, I think you were fairly close in many areas. The temps were normal to below normal on average, and the rainfall was probably average. Although sometimes the rain sometime came in spurts and drizzles over many days and at other times it just dumped everything in an afternoon. But that is what averages are about, huh?

This is one of those times when I think that averages fail us. The summer was definitely odd, weather-wise, when taken as a day to day event. But, when averaged, especially using a mean average, it falls well within normal parameters.

I've always thought it strange that a 70/50 degree day has the same mean as a 120/0 degree day, even though they're entirely different creatures. I suppose there is some kind of long-winded computer program that can take the extremes into consideration, but the complexity would be intense.
3. Zachary Labe
12:40 AM GMT on August 30, 2008
dragonflyF15- Good evening!!! Thanks! That was quite a storm last year when the tree fell. A microburst really hit my area hard. Thanks for stopping by!
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140
2. dragonflyF15
12:38 AM GMT on August 30, 2008
Good job on the blog. As for the pic, surprise surprise, it's a Bradford pear split after a storm! >snicker>

:)

Have a great weekend!
Member Since: February 13, 2006 Posts: 195 Comments: 2153
1. Zachary Labe
12:12 AM GMT on August 30, 2008
***Good evening all!!! This is part 1 of my series of Labor Day blogs. This blog above was issued back in April for the summer of 2008. I will issue my summer summary and statements on my forecast tomorrow. The meteorological summer comes to an end in two days. The NWS will issue summer recap statements on September 1. But on September 1 I want to issue my winter outlook, so I had to put out this blog early. This blog is sort of a look back at the summer. Feel free to critique my forecast and retell stories of the summer that you had. Overall my summer was uneventful, but tomorrow I will tell of the worst storms that encountered. It is hard to believe the summer is over in the meteorological world. Certainly though this August has made it seem like it is Fall. Anyways I will be providing updates throughout the weekend. Have a great evening!!!
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15140

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Cornell University- Atmospheric Sciences Undergrad; Research Assist.- Onset of Spring Indices Toolbox; Interests- Small spatial scale climatolology

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