Thursday, November 26, 2015

POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2015, 12:46 PM
(TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

Assuming the forecast holds, the official thermometer at Philadelphia International Airport will register its first freezing reading of the season Monday morning.

In the period of record, already this is in the top 25 for a late first  official freeze, and should it happen on Monday, that would become the 11th-longest wait for the first 32-degree reading in the 142-year database.

We note that the first freeze dates in the 21st Century have been coming later. The long-term average is Nov. 8; since 2001 the average is Nov. 13. The record is Dec. 11, in 1939.

POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 3:13 PM
Dashing through Boston last winter; feds say it's likely to be milder up that way this time around. (AP Photo/Brent Rydin)

In addition to last month’s record warmth worldwide, the government’s monthly climate report released Thursday contained a reference that could be interpreted as encouraging for those who enjoy skiing and the occasional school closing.

The Eurasian October snow cover was well above normal – the sixth-most extensive in 48 years of monitoring –something that some experts view as a potential indicator for winter snow in the Northeast.

Glenn Schwartz mentioned this in his winter forecast, which, by the way, makes for fine reading and does have some warm thoughts for those who appreciate a good snow day once in awhile.

POSTED: Thursday, November 19, 2015, 11:46 AM
Fisherman savoring October sunset in Somers; October warm all over the world. (GREGG KOHL / For The Inquirer)

Driven in part by profound warming over the tropical Pacific, globally averaged temperatures in October were 1.76 degrees Fahrenheit above 20th Century average, the National Climatic Data Center said Thursday morning.

Among the 1,630 months in the period of record dating to 1880, that was the highest departure, the center said.

It beat the standard set in September – 1.64 degrees;  the margin of error was 0.13. The first 10 months of the year constituted the warmest such period in the database, and 2015 has all but clinched the title of warmest year on record.

POSTED: Tuesday, November 17, 2015, 5:54 PM
California scene from 1998, during last mega-El Nino; another strong one is brewing. (Orange County Register)

If you’re not yet tired of hearing about El Nino, that continent-size expanse of ultra-warm water in the tropical Pacific, give it time – you probably will be.

As of Monday the waters out that way were simmering – about 5.5 degrees Fahrenheit above normal – and since weather moves west to east, the heating of the overlying air will affect winds over the Northern Hemisphere from now until spring.

In the old days El Nino brewed in obscurity, admired quietly by an oceanographic subculture. But these days it is an international celebrity.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2015, 12:06 PM
Kate churning in the North Atlantic on way to oblivion. (NOAA/Weather Underground/AP)

In the twilight of another remarkable season, just before daybreak Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center knighted Kate as the Atlantic Basin’s fourth hurricane.

North of Bermuda and barely qualifying as a hurricane with peak winds of 75 m.p.h., it was looking to do little more than scare some fish as it spins toward oblivion in the North Atlantic.  

Kate is the 12th named storm of the season for the basin, which includes the Gulf and Caribbean. For named storms, that would be dead-on average, and actually, a tad higher than predicted.

POSTED: Tuesday, November 10, 2015, 3:32 PM
Hail in South Jersey in November 2014. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

A nasty little storm off the Delmarva coast has generated onshore gusts near 40 m.p.h. at the Jersey Shore, where beaches took a hammering in last month’s nor’easter.

Meanwhile, farther inland and far removed from the peak severe-storm season, a thunderstorm rocked parts of the region.

Penny-size hail, three-quarters of an inch in diameter, was reported in Ewing, Mercer County.

POSTED: Saturday, November 7, 2015, 11:15 AM
The November issue of Philadelphia Magazine features a column by D. Herbert Lipson that claims government forecasters predicted Sandy would out to sea instead of making landfall in New Jersey. (Rob Tornoe / Staff)

Meteorologists are wont to say that their skills are superior to the listening skills of those of us who have to live with the weather.

Mostly, they suffer quietly.

So we were surprised when Gary Szatkowski, the head of the local National Weather Service Office, took on D. Herbert Lipson for comments he made in his “Off the Cuff” column in this month’s Philadelphia Magazine.

POSTED: Thursday, November 5, 2015, 11:32 AM
A warm autumn night on Rittenhouse Square. Staff photographer Tom Gralish blogs about his work at

At 2:47 p.m. Wednesday, a rare event occurred at Philadelphia International Airport: The official temperature reached 80.

That was one shy of the record for the date, and only the ninth time in the 141-year period of record that the temperature had reached 80 in November.

Naturally, most of those have occurred early in the month, but this November is off to a particularly toasty start.

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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