The Northeast Heatwave

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 9:08 AM GMT on July 07, 2010

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Hi, Dr. Rob Carver, filling in for Jeff while he's on vacation.

The most significant weather event in the US on July 6, 2010 didn't show up on any radar. The geostationary satellites didn't see it in their constant watch over the Earth's atmosphere. Instead, the tale of this event was told by the thermometers, because the heatwave in the Northeast was the most significant event for July 6, and it will likely be the most important weather story for July 7.

The heat wave covers Pennsylvania to Maine, but Tuesday's worst was centered over New York City. All six of the stations used by the New York NWS office for climate reports (Central Park, La Guardia, JFK, Islip, Bridgeport, and Newark) set or tied the daily high temperature record. Newark and Central Park both reached 103 degrees F.

How unusual is this heat wave?
Figures 1 and 2 show how warm the highs and lows are compared to 30 year averages. Unless you were at the Great Lakes, the Midwest and Northeast have highs well above normal, with 10-15+ degree F differences over the coastal cities of the Northeast. Using my gridded temperature data, the low for New York City was 6 degrees F above normal, which should happen 30% of the time (1.1 standard deviations away from normal). The high was roughly 20 degrees above normal, which should happen only 0.29% of the time (3.04 standard deviations away from normal). This is an unusually strong heat wave.

Why it's hot
Basically, it's because there is "the Bull of a high pressure ridge [over the NE US]" to quote the Mount Holly NWS office forecast discussion. The large ridge of high pressure is forcing air to slowly descend across the Northeast, preventing clouds from forming. Without no clouds and plenty of daylight, the Sun heats the ground which then heats the air.

When will it cool down?
That's an excellent question. A trough of low pressure off the coast will bring onshore winds to the Tri-State area and MA by Thursday, so they should cool down a bit. The southern part of the heat wave, DC and Philadelphia, will have to wait for a cold front to arrive from the Great Lakes sometime Saturday to get relief.

Population affected
As Figure 3 shows, heat advisories covered most of the urban areas of the northeastern US. By my calculations, over 32 million people were under a heat advisory. Different offices have different guidelines for heat advisories. The NWS office responsible for New York issues a heat advisory if the heat index will be above 95 deg. F for two or more days or if the index will be above 100 deg. F for any length of time.


Fig.1 Plot of the difference between maximum temperature (the high for the day) and average maximum temperature in degrees F for July 6.


Fig.2 Plot of the difference between minimum temperature (the low for the day) and average minimum temperature in degrees F for July 6.


Fig.3 Plot of the active heat advisories across the northeastern US for July 6.

Heatwave impacts
The predominant impact from heat waves is increased mortality. CDC estimates that over 8,000 people died during heat waves from 1979 to 2003. That's more than all of the deaths due to lightning, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. The elderly, sick, poor, and very young face the worst of the effects of the heat. Wikipedia has an interesting article describing the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, a modern heat wave with a large number of fatalities due to the heat.

Heatwave coping strategies
The Centers for Disease Control have some tips for dealing with the heat. In summary, drink plenty of water, spend time in air-conditioned buildings, and wear light-colored clothing.

Is this heat wave due to global warming?
Ah, the $64,000 question. In the absence of detailed analysis, it's hard to specify the exact cause for this heat wave, from a meteorological or climatological view point. However, events like this are consistent with research showing that heat waves are more likely with
global warming
. I like the metaphor of loaded dice, global warming is not specifically responsible for any heat wave, but it will make them happen more often.

Tropics
My thinking on Invest 96L is unchanged from this blog entry. In summary, I believe that 96L has a <50 % chance becoming a tropical cyclone before it makes landfall. If it does so, it will likely be near the coast when that happens. In any event though, the winds and waves it generates will likely disrupt oil spill recovery efforts. Also, I would expect a broad area of showers and 20+ mph winds will affect the Gulf coast somewhere from south Texas to Louisiana.

Next update
I'll have an update this afternoon to talk about the tropics.

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Ok, let me rephrase this.. reminds me of how Erin formed, I see a TD at best, weak TS at the most. Erin formed around where 96L is right now, this is why it reminds me of that particular storm. It was an invest for days, I remewmber because we were tracking Dean at the time and we had the invest that wouldnt get going till it got near Texas.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
686. Daveg
Flaring up for sure...
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 426
Quoting reedzone:
Sorry, I just don't see how 96L is much more organized.. Little organiztion? Yes, but big time organization since this morning? No.. To me, 96L remains disorganized, don't see a reason to hype this. Reminds me of Tropical Storm Erin in 2007.


Erin caused flooding in Texas and Oklahoma long after it made landfall, if this reminds you of Erin; then it is a reason to watch it
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7826
Quoting reedzone:
Sorry, I just don't see how 96L is much more organized.. Little organiztion? Yes, but big time organization since this morning? No.. To me, 96L remains disorganized, don't see a reason to hype this. Reminds me of Tropical Storm Erin in 2007.


Well Tropical Storm Erin was a tropical cyclone. It really isn't that disorganized. The convective pattern could sure we better as we are only getting around a 1.0 on the T-numbers at the moment. But we have a surface circulation now and increasing thunderstorms.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
Post #671, unfortunately, it's all about the money! Larger TV audience in New Orleans. Factor in the TV audience that has visited New Orleans on vacation over the past 50+ years and we are talking tens of million potential viewers. Not to mention, it's not everyday levees break in a heavy populated city.

Not saying this right, but it's the reality. Money.
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Quoting kelley9:


Heh.... My memory's way bad then. lol. Whoops. Thanks for the clarification.
..and I'm not questioning any of the kudos toward portlight, I simply asked a simple question
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Sorry, I just don't see how 96L is much more organized.. Little organiztion? Yes, but big time organization since this morning? No.. To me, 96L remains disorganized, don't see a reason to hype this. Reminds me of Tropical Storm Erin in 2007.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7396
Normally it is like 100 - 105 here this time of year with 30 percent humidity. But with the tropics all pointed to Texas our humidity has been Louisiana like or maybe even Florida. :)
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Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Virginia are you going to survive this heat?

Where i am in Texas it is 92 with 60 percent humidity and too much sun. You can have the 100's, stay cool


lol...ill survive...ill just hiding indoors completely...lol..we are "supposed" to drop down to 93-96 tommorrow with increased humidy and a chance of rain...oh do i hope for rain...
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T1.0 consensus from TAFB and SAB on the 17:45 UTC estimate.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
676. Daveg
Quoting bohonkweatherman:
Virginia are you going to survive this heat?

Where i am in Texas it is 92 with 60 percent humidity and too much sun. You can have the 100's, stay cool


Same here, walk out the door and 1/2 second later I am covered in sweat. 99 degrees here and 59% humidity.
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 426
Quoting Jynni99:
I think Portlight is a great thing. I just got back from taking my daughter to the Weather Museum here in Houston (I did not even know there was one till I was browsing around last night for something to do). I stayed and helped feed the National Guard and Emergency Mgmt people through Ike and got to see the destruction first hand. In the museum the biggest thing that stood out was the point someone on a video made that a lot of what happened during Ike wasn't show by the media like it was during Katrina. A lot of what happened was forgotten it did not get the celebrities help fund raise for it etc. so huge props to what other do to help those who really need it!


Where is our weather museum? I've never heard of it.
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Virginia are you going to survive this heat?

Where i am in Texas it is 92 with 60 percent humidity and too much sun. You can have the 100's, stay cool
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673. Daveg
Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 426
Quoting Floodman:


Portlight has been around for a while; the disaster response portion of it started here on the Doc's blog. Presslord and a number of others started it in 1997. Pat and Presslord put together a response to Ike in 2008 and the members of this blog provided volunteers and donations to keep the Ike response going. The memebers of Wundeground have been a large part of Portlight, either tjhrough donations opr volunteering and his group of people have a long history of voulnteerism.

NttyGrtty, I though you were here then, though I could be wrong...bottom line is that Portlight does relief work for those with disabilities either here in the states or overseas when a need is identified.


Heh.... My memory's way bad then. lol. Whoops. Thanks for the clarification.
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Quoting Jynni99:
I think Portlight is a great thing. I just got back from taking my daughter to the Weather Museum here in Houston (I did not even know there was one till I was browsing around last night for something to do). I stayed and helped feed the National Guard and Emergency Mgmt people through Ike and got to see the destruction first hand. In the museum the biggest thing that stood out was the point someone on a video made that a lot of what happened during Ike wasn't show by the media like it was during Katrina. A lot of what happened was forgotten it did not get the celebrities help fund raise for it etc. so huge props to what other do to help those who really need it!


People living south of New Orleans, as well as coastal Mississippi and Alabama were also neglected by the media.
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Quoting sailingallover:

But as long as that high sits over the azores we have DUST.. there might be slots here and there but I have watched the convection of every wave that comes off africa get squashed by dust for the last 3 weeks except for the last one in a clear slot and it was stripped by the low that came off the east coast. Right now the high is forecast to move a little west but dust will still be an issue. Don't look for a lot of out the Atlantic for at least another week


Yeah that's why I said 2nd half of the month. I don't see anything developing out there during the next 8 days.

Trade winds out there remained slower than normal on average in June, so the high isn't too awful strong. The GFS shows it weakening as it shifts west like you mentioned, so dust blown off by the trades shouldn't be an issue more than it normally is, and should be less of a problem than normal.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
DUST
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I think Portlight is a great thing. I just got back from taking my daughter to the Weather Museum here in Houston (I did not even know there was one till I was browsing around last night for something to do). I stayed and helped feed the National Guard and Emergency Mgmt people through Ike and got to see the destruction first hand. In the museum the biggest thing that stood out was the point someone on a video made that a lot of what happened during Ike wasn't show by the media like it was during Katrina. A lot of what happened was forgotten it did not get the celebrities help fund raise for it etc. so huge props to what other do to help those who really need it!
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JAMES RIVER VA US (MADIS)
Temperature: 105.3 °F
Dew Point: 69 °F
Humidity: 34%
Wind: WNW at 3mph
Heat Index: 111 °F

continued rant...still no heat advisory...lol
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Thunderstorms increasing on the storms northern side
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 30565
Quoting KarenRei:


To be fair, Evolutionary biologists have been dealing with it for a century and a half.


So have the biologists who support creationism
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Quoting Levi32:
Well I'm sure this was posted but here we go again on the GFS with Cape Verde mischief coming across the Atlantic during the 10-15 day period, the 2nd half of the month. The pattern looks to be very favorable for this kind of stuff to start developing by then. We're nearing the meat of the season and pretty soon there will be very little down-time between named systems to be tracking.


But as long as that high sits over the azores we have DUST.. there might be slots here and there but I have watched the convection of every wave that comes off africa get squashed by dust for the last 3 weeks except for the last one in a clear slot and it was stripped by the low that came off the east coast. Right now the high is forecast to move a little west but dust will still be an issue. Don't look for a lot of out the Atlantic for at least another week+
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Mount Pleasant, Colonial Heights, Virginia (PWS)
Updated: 7 sec ago
Scattered Clouds
104.1 °F
Scattered Clouds
Humidity: 30%
Dew Point: 67 °F
Wind: 1.7 mph
Wind Gust: 2.6 mph
Pressure: 29.95 in (Falling)
Heat Index: 110 °F

yay...i bet its going to be just lovely around 4-5...when we get to our peak temp...miserable :|
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Quoting FLdewey:


I recall getting a 24hour ban way back in 2007 for posting a link to Red Cross donations. I'm pretty sure portlight has something worked out with masters. They do good work.
Not questioning their goodness in any way, just asking the question...
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Quoting kelley9:


Portlight was started here on this site during the 2005 season by Patrap and some others on the blog. (if I remember correctly... someone correct me if I'm wrong)


Portlight has been around for a while; the disaster response portion of it started here on the Doc's blog. Presslord and a number of others started it in 1997. Pat and Presslord put together a response to Ike in 2008 and the members of this blog provided volunteers and donations to keep the Ike response going. The memebers of Wundeground have been a large part of Portlight, either tjhrough donations opr volunteering and his group of people have a long history of voulnteerism.

NttyGrtty, I though you were here then, though I could be wrong...bottom line is that Portlight does relief work for those with disabilities either here in the states or overseas when a need is identified.
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660. unf97
Quoting illinichaser:


What is the most likely steering currents in that time frame. I we still going to be looking at that general WNW movement?


Based on the long range GFS, we may begin to see the extension of the Subtropical ridge build westward later this month, thus systems that do form will have a W-W/NW motion across the tropical Atlantic.
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659. JLPR2
Quoting KarenRei:


How'd you come up with 1998 as the closest analogy? Why not 2005 (god forbid)? Super-hot waters, not El Nino, etc?


2005 was a warm neutral year, this year is heading towards a La Niña like 98
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I'm in MD. There may be some clouds out there, but they aren't helping any. It's always fun to have the biggest snowfall on record followed by record breaking heat. The allergy season here has just been terrible.
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Quoting duajones78413:
Does it look like Corpus will get much rain from 96?


Probably. Everywhere from SW Louisiana to northern Mexico is likely to get drenched.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Levi, what are your thoughts down the road....I see the season is starting out with Mexico/South TX....is this going to be the trend for them....surely not huh?
Quoting illinichaser:


What is the most likely steering currents in that time frame. I we still going to be looking at that general WNW movement?


The pattern favors ridging bridging across most of the Atlantic, which would tend to steer storms WNW for a longer time before they recurve, and that would make a lot of them threaten the Caribbean countries and the United States. It's the kind of pattern we were talking about way back during the winter....very bad season for most of the major land areas of the western Atlantic. The focus of tracks will unfortunately be further south and west, with less fish storms.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Does it look like Corpus will get much rain from 96?
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Quoting Levi32:
Well I'm sure this was posted but here we go again on the GFS with Cape Verde mischief coming across the Atlantic during the 10-15 day period, the 2nd half of the month. The pattern looks to be very favorable for this kind of stuff to start developing by then. We're nearing the meat of the season and pretty soon there will be very little down-time between named systems to be tracking.



What is the most likely steering currents in that time frame. I we still going to be looking at that general WNW movement?
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Quoting Levi32:
Well I'm sure this was posted but here we go again on the GFS with Cape Verde mischief coming across the Atlantic during the 10-15 day period, the 2nd half of the month. The pattern looks to be very favorable for this kind of stuff to start developing by then. We're nearing the meat of the season and pretty soon there will be very little down-time between named systems to be tracking.



Levi, what are your thoughts down the road....I see the season is starting out with Mexico/South TX....is this going to be the trend for them....surely not huh?
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Quoting NRAamy:
I recall getting a 24hour ban way back in 2007 for posting a link to Red Cross donations.

I recall getting a 72 hour ban for the purple hippo taking a dump on Hurricane Danny...

;)


Didn't need to see that... the only hippo I want to see on here is your handle.
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Quoting watchingnva:


fair weather clouds...



Clouds regardless, anyway you look at it. =)
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Well I'm sure this was posted but here we go again on the GFS with Cape Verde mischief coming across the Atlantic during the 10-15 day period, the 2nd half of the month. The pattern looks to be very favorable for this kind of stuff to start developing by then. We're nearing the meat of the season and pretty soon there will be very little down-time between named systems to be tracking.

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting StormChaser81:


Plenty of clouds in the area you describe? The only spot with barely any clouds is NC and SC.


fair weather clouds...

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I recall getting a 24hour ban way back in 2007 for posting a link to Red Cross donations.

I recall getting a 72 hour ban for the purple hippo taking a dump on Hurricane Danny...

;)
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18z SHIPS appears to move 96L inland by the 24 hour mark. Peaks it at 40kts in 18 hours.
Member Since: August 2, 2007 Posts: 19 Comments: 19234
Quoting HurricaneKyle:
Looking back on our closest analog season, 1998, most of the storms that season where Cape Verde originated.


How'd you come up with 1998 as the closest analogy? Why not 2005 (god forbid)? Super-hot waters, not El Nino, etc?
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Quoting FLdewey:


I recall getting a 24hour ban way back in 2007 for posting a link to Red Cross donations. I'm pretty sure portlight has something worked out with masters. They do good work.


Portlight was started here on this site during the 2005 season by Patrap and some others on the blog. (if I remember correctly... someone correct me if I'm wrong)
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bonnie and colin may devlop soon,bonnie might be short-lived however colin may persist longer looking at the models not saying its a sure thing all the ingredients seem to be in place for 2 or 3 more storms if all the aoi were named then we wud have been 8 storms down by now
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Quoting TampaTom:
Dang... I have relatives all the way up the east coast, and I'm the coolest of all of them way down here in Florida. What a heatwave...

And, what a difference five months makes since Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, Sno Mas! and the like.




and that is one of the many great things about living down here!

Most of the time, its way too cold up there, when it finally heats up, it gets way hotter then anyone wants, so it defeats the purpose of the heat!

As for us, most of the time we just have humid jungle weather, warm and humid to sometimes hot, but rarely too hot.
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Thanks unf97
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Quoting Hurricanes101:
AL, 96, 2010070718, , BEST, 0, 238N, 936W, 30, 1007, DB


Back up to 30 knots.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
637. Not surprising to see the up in winds with the increased organization.
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wow, weather.com does not allow you to direct link images. so much for posting temp maps
<>a href=" " target="_blank">
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AL, 96, 2010070718, , BEST, 0, 238N, 936W, 30, 1007, DB
Member Since: March 10, 2010 Posts: 1 Comments: 7826

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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.