Archive: October, 2010
Once again a fairly healthy breeze should be blowing in from left field tonight at Citizens Bank Park, and that's not going to hurt Roy Oswalt or Bronson Arroyo.
Otherwise, the atmosphere should be more than kind to the fans at the onset of one of the most magnificent weekends of the fall.
But should the Phillies survive in the playoffs, don't expect the good run of weather to persist. It almost certainly will get chillier, and the serious coastal-storm season could get under way at almost anytime.
The period from March 1 through Sept. 30 was far and away the warmest such period ever in Philadelphia.
As Glenn Schwartz at NBC10 points out, all seven of those months officially were among the warmest in the period of record, dating to 1874. That includes June, which had the highest average June temperature ever.
Not surprisingly, the average temperature for the 214 days -- 69.3 -- is in a class by itself. It beat 1991's 67.9 by a full 1.4 degrees. That's mighty impressive considered the other four years on the top 5 list are clustered tightly just fractions of a degree from one another. They are as follows -- 1991, 67.3; 1995, 67.4; 1921, 67.3, and 2002, 67.
Earlier, we mentioned that the deeper the Phillies and Yankees make it into the playoffs, the greater the likelihood that a nasty coastal storm would coincide with a scheduled game in Philadelphia or New York. We are on the threshold of the nor'easter season, and Game 7 of the World Series is scheduled for Nov. 4. Minneapolis doesn't have to worry about coastal rainstorms, but wintry weather does tend to arrive a little earlier out that way. On Nov. 4, 1910, the temperature fell to 3 below zero, Fahrenheit. On Nov. 1, 1910, Minneapolis had 18.5 inches of snow. Next year, Major League Baseball promises that the World Series will be over by Oct. 27. That would probably work out better for Minnesotans. The Minneapolis temperature has never gone below 13 on that date, and it has never snowed more than 3 inches.
Breezes blowing in from left field at Citizens Bank Park may have some effect on hitters this week. But before this is all over, winds howling at 100-plus m.p.h. in the upper atmopshere may also come into play in baseball's postseason.
Major League Baseball now has Game 7 of the World Series scheduled for Nov. 4, and it is highly possible that the tournament venue will be Philadelphia and-or New York.
Recall the powerful storm that in 2008 that resulted in the two-part deciding game of that World Series. The weather savvy were surprised -- surprised that major storms didn't interrupt the World Series more often.
Pitchers firing mid-90s fastballs into the chilly October twilight probably don't need much help. But it appears that nature is about to give it to the Phillies' Roy Halladay and the Reds' Edinson Volquez whether they need it or not.
The latest forecast has a subtle tweak from yesterday's outlook. It's now calling for winds from the west at 7 to 9 m.p.h. during the game. That would be blowing in from left field. That's not going to stop a line drive from going over the fence, but it might be enough to hold up a deep fly to left.
The wind outlook for the Friday game is almost identical. So in a hitter's park, don't be surprised if runs are scarce. As for rain, a shower is possible during the game, but it shouldn't last long. Friday is looking splendid.
Rain totals in Philadelphia for the last six days now are pushing 6 inches, with more elsewhere in the region. Therein resides a certain symmetry. Before the rains started late last week, the accumulated rainfall deficit since April 1 was right around 6 inches. The effects of the dryness and the summer's record heat were evident on the browning trees and on all the lawns covered with premature, brittle leaf-fall. Among the stressed-out species were sugar maples, tulip poplars, and bald cypresses, according to William Elmendorf, a forestry specialist at Penn State. Some of the damage may be irreversible in terms of taking leaves out of play for the annual fall-color extavaganza. "In some cases, the die may already be cast," said Paul Meyer, executive director of Penn's Morris Arboretum, in Chestnut Hill. But it won't be a complete wash-out. The late-breaking rains should help apply the brakes on the leaf-fall. "It will slow it down some," he said. Elmendorf believes that the trees will get a jolt from all the fresh rains, but that they may not reap that harvest until the spring. In any event, Meyer assures, fall will be fall, and do expect plenty of color. Foliage connoisseurs can look to 1995 for encouragement. That year, heavy October rains helped break a serious drought, and leaves were hanging tough deep into November. That is not to say it will happen again. Like love and the atmosphere, the onset, duration and vibrancy of fall colors are subject to maddening variables. Said Meyer, "I don't think anyone really knows what's going to happen." But it almost certainly will become more colorful around here by the end of the month.
The pre-season predictions were ominous, as were the in-season updates. The consensus was that this had the potential to be one of the most-destructive hurricane seasons on record. Warm Atlantic, cool Pacific, favorable environment --everything was aligned. So what has happened? With the season well past its climatological peak, not a single hurricane has made landfall on U.S. shores. That certainly ranks as a surprise, but it would be unfair to declare that all the forecasts have been busts. First, the season isn't over yet. It doesn't end until Nov. 30. More on that below. Secondly, in terms of the raw numbers of named storms, the forecasts haven't been far off. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Colorado State University, Accu-Weather, WSI Corp., and Tropical Storm Risk all predicted well above-average numbers of named storms, those with winds of 39 m.p.h. or better, and hurricanes, with winds of at least 74 m.p.h. Accu-Weather, for example, called for 16 to 18 named storms and 10 or 11 hurricanes, with five of those major, having winds of 131 m.p.h. or more. NOAA cast a far-broader net, calling for a range of 14 to 23 named storms, 8 to 14 hurricanes, and 3 to 7 of those major. So where do we stand? As of today, the government has identified 14 named storms in the Atlantic Basin, seven of which became hurricanes, and five of those major. Given what's left of the season, those numbers would be in the forecast ballparks, or at least in the stadium parking lots. One point worth mentioning is that NOAA had said that reaching the upper end of its forecast would depend on whether La Nina, a widespread cooling of the equatorial Pacific took hold. It has, and it has come on strongly. In its weekly update today, the government's Climate Prediction Center reports that temperatures in the key measuring zone are better than 3 degrees below normal as La Nina intensifies. It would take quite an active late season to bump up the named-storm numbers into the 20s to reach that upper end, but it isn't out of the question. In 2005, the year of Katrina, 10 named storms developed after Oct. 1, including the destructive and underrated Wilma. Back in 1887, long before satellite and plane reconnaissance, nine tropical storms formed. In 2007, seven storms formed, and five of those became hurricanes. We will keep watch and match the individual forecasts for named storms and hurricanes with the semi-final numbers later this month.
When the rains started last week, Philadelphia's precipitation total for the previous 30 days was under a third of normal. Through yesterday, it was 178 percent of normal, thanks to that 5-plus inch soaking. The hefty rain totals also evidently were widespread, the only exception being near the Shore. Using data from a variety of stations throughout the counties, as of yesterday, precipitation for the last 30 days was about double normal in Bucks County, and well over twice normal in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery Counties, according to the government's Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center. The mainland Jersey figures weren't quite as hefty, but still well over. In Burlington, it was 164 percent of normal; 167, in Camden, and 189, in Gloucester. All that said, a drought watch remains in effect for all of New Jersey and for Chester and Delaware Counties, and a drought warning stays posted for Philly and Bucks and Montgomery Counties. Showers are in the forecast into Wednesday night, however, the rain amounts won't be of the deluge variety, maybe a half inch to an inch, total. So far today, the airport total is well under a quarter-inch.
The region's waterways are still processing the mass quantities of tropical moisture they ingested, and some of the major ones remain above flood stage.
The National Weather Service reports that the Neshaminy Creek, at Langhorne, and the Brandywine, at Chadds Ford, have just past their crests and are starting to go down.
The Neshaminy was at 10.25 feet, or 1.25 above flood stage, and the Brandywine at 13.1, 4.1 above the flood level.
To the west and north of Philadelphia, rain amounts came in even higher than the scary forecasts, but rain was not much of an issue at the Shore.
Rain totals generally were under 2 inches near the coast, said Valerie Meola at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, and only about an inch was measured in the last 24 hours in Atlantic City.
The reason: The complex storm system that exploited the leftovers of Tropical Storm Nicole took a slightly more westerly track than anticipated.