Saturday, November 1, 2014
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POSTED: Friday, October 31, 2014, 4:04 PM
A student looks out the frosted window of a school bus as it moves down 19th Street on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / staff photographer)

An impressive glaze of white coated cars north and west of the city Friday morning, and some areas received their first serious frost of the season.

Officially, however, the temperature at Philadelphia International Airport didn’t even get into the 30s, another case study for the urban heat island effect and the location of the thermometer, near the river and a swamp near the city’s southwestern border.

After dark, temperatures between the city and the suburbs can vary by several degrees when the winds are light and the skies generally fair – as was the case during the overnight hours.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 6:03 PM
Autumn evidently still has plenty of life left in the Philadelphia region.

We are about to enter the vestibule of the season to come, and for our money, aesthetically those early November days constitute one of the most-underrated periods of the year.

But despite the imminent pre-winter chill and the turning-back of the clocks, autumn evidently still has plenty of life left in the Philadelphia region.

In what it rather sadly calls its "final" weekly update -- and we say "sadly" because we think the leaf report is one of the best things we've seen come out of Harrisburg -- the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry says the show is more or less all over north and west of the Lehigh Valley.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 11:30 AM
More than a foot of snow covers the fountain at Logan Square in Philadelphia on January 22, 2014. (Colin Kerrigan /

Anyone serious about weather won’t care about this, but the Old Farmer’s Almanac is calling for snow and cold in the Philadelphia region.

What is of perhaps more significant is that its outlook is in line with those posted so far from some more conventional neighborhoods of the meteorological community.

AccuWeather went on record two weeks ago as calling for a snowy winter in the Northeast, with above-normal snowfall around here.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 4:55 PM
Joggers in the snow last December. (MICHAEL S. WIRTZ / Staff Photographer)

This is going to take some getting used to. For decades a forecast of 4 inches or more in Philadelphia was enough for the National Weather Service to hoist a “winter storm warning.”

This winter, however, 4 inches won’t cut it. It will take a forecast of at least 5 inches to raise the flag in and around Philadelphia and in South Jersey.

At a briefing Tuesday, meteorologists from the Mount Holly office rolled out a new winter protocol to take effect Dec. 1.

POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 1:50 PM
Dog-sledding near Mount Washington; feds say it might be mild up that way this winter.

Our best guess is that not many folks in the Philadelphia region will be building their winter plans around the Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal outlook.

As usual, it is spare in detail, compared with those posted by private forecasters, showing probabilities in three categories – “above normal,” “below normal,” and “equal chances” (EC)  – over extensive areas of the country.

It has more to say about drought-stricken California (things should get a little better) and northern New England (a mild winter might be in the offing).

POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2014, 11:35 AM

In at least three National Weather Service offices that had lost staff -- including the Philadelphia region’s -- overall forecast accuracy declined during the last three years, according to data supplied by the meteorologists’ union.

In addition, the data show that the numbers of “false alarms” – severe-weather warnings issued for threats that didn’t pan out – increased, says the National Weather Service Employees Organization.

Weather service officials have declined to comment.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 4:19 PM
Scene from February 2010; a snowy winter that didn't fit September pattern. (DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

Following up on Tuesday’s post about the prodigious snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere last month – the third-largest for a September on record -- we found some data to warm the hopes of snow-lovers.

The 45 years of available records suggest a  correlation between hemispheric September snow and winter snowfall in Philadelphia – albeit with some dramatic exceptions.

A few cautionary notes:

POSTED: Wednesday, October 15, 2014, 11:38 AM

AccuWeather is on record as calling for a snowy winter in the Northeast, with above-normal snowfall around here.

Other outlooks soon will follow, with the government due to release its forecast on Thursday. That one, issued by the Climate Prediction Center, typically is the least-specific.

The temperature and precipitation maps won’t tell you much, but in the view of government meteorologists that’s about as much as can be said in all honesty.

About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at

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