Tuesday, January 27, 2015

POSTED: Monday, July 21, 2014, 5:01 PM

Lasting only three days each, the two “heat waves” this season in Philadelphia barely met the government’s technical definition of three consecutive days with an official high of 90 or better.

A puff of heat is due to return the next couple of days, but this one isn’t even going to clear the minimum threshold for a heat wave.

But for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the forecasts call for temperatures stunningly comfortable for late July in Philadelphia, with no serious heat on the horizon.

POSTED: Friday, July 18, 2014, 5:38 PM

If you’ve been to Wildwood recently you probably know that you can burn off a lot of frozen custard by walking from the Boardwalk to the water.

As we’ve noted, the growth of the beach is the aftermath of a 100-year-old engineering project.

From 1908 to 1911, the U.S. government spent $15 million to build mile-long stone jetties to stabilize an inlet between the Wildwoods and Cape May.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 1:35 PM
Warren Avert caught this photo of lightning during a serious storm that ripped through the Philadelphia region Monday night.

A loyal reader recently heard something outrageous from the boss: She won’t take a shower during a thunderstorm lest lightning work its way through the pipes serving her building.

We have not encountered hard data on lightning-related injuries that have occurred in showers, and we know nothing about the plumbing system in question.

However, it is a fact that metal conducts lightning, and metal piping certainly could serve as such a conductor.

POSTED: Monday, July 14, 2014, 1:45 PM

For the last few days the moisture-laden atmosphere has been about as invigorating as a low-grade illness.

That moisture evidently is about to take another, potentially dangerous form.

The National Weather Service in Mount Holly has posted a severe-thunderstorm watch for the entire region through 8 p.m. tonight.

POSTED: Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:10 AM
A "super moon" rises above a egret nesting area on the west side of Wichita, Kan., in 2012. A supermoon, is the coincidence of a full moon (or a new moon) with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, or perigee. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Bo Rader, file)

When the moon rises right after sunset Saturday, it will look as though it put on some weight, even though technically it is weightless.

The so-called perigee moon will appear an estimated 14 percent larger than usual, and roughly 30 percent brighter once it gets cooking.

That’s because it will be closer to the Earth than usual. The moon’s orbit is elliptical, somewhat like the Earth’s around the sun.

POSTED: Thursday, July 10, 2014, 5:03 PM

Rumors have been swirling that the polar vortex, rescued from eons of obscurity last winter, is about to invade the United States once again.

The rumors evidently are true, and those who don’t particularly like the heat should be holding “welcome back” parties if it does return next week.

The vortex, a persistent feature, is a swirling mass of cold air in the upper atmosphere that on occasion intrudes into the contiguous United States. Its intrusions were frequent last winter, as you may recall, when it was rescued from eons of polar obscurity.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 1:17 PM

So far, Philadelphia has experienced only one three- day stretch of 90-plus temperatures – the first three days of this month -- and that was longest wait for a first “heat wave” since 2007.

We put “heat wave” in quotes because the technical definition, three consecutive days of an official temperature of 90 or better, is seriously wanting.

 At 1, the official reading was 86, and it is still possible that this will become the season’s second such stretch, thus becoming a “heat wave,” but what does that mean?

POSTED: Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 11:42 AM

That line of thunderstorms that plowed through the region last night generated gusts up to 62 m.p.h., and in some households no doubt it kick-started the emergency generators.

In all, PECO reported 260,000 service interruptions – what we loosely call power outages -- as a result of last night’s storms, according to PECO’s Cathy Engel-Menendez.

On Thursday night, the eve of the holiday, about 150,000 customers lost power, but meteorologically the events were quite different.

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 twood@phillynews.com.

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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