Archive: October, 2010
Temperatures are expected to tumble into the upper 30s by Friday morning in the region, and October looks to break a streak of six consecutive months of above-normal warmth.
But early indications are that the winter on our doorstep will be much lighter on fuel bills, disruption and history than the winter of 2009-10.
Tomorrow, the government will release its annual winter outlook, and Accu-Weather will update its forecast.
It now appears that Citizens Bank Park won't become Candlestick east when the Phillies play the Giants tomorrow night.
The wind forecasts have calmed down considerably, and now the calls are for more modest breezes blowing in from left and left-center at under 10 m.p.h. during the game.
That still could have subtle effects on pitches thrown by Roy Halladay and rival Tim Lincecum, but the Bank is not going to turn into a version of San Francisco's Candlestick Park, the Giants' former home, where the winds howled notoriously and relentlessly toward right field.
Although the planet showed some signs of cooling off in September, the government says the Jan. 1-Sept. 30 period tied 1998 for the warmest on record.
The combined land and sea temperature was 58.67, according to the National Climate Data Center, driven in part by the widespread warming of the equatorial Pacific -- El Niño -- earlier in the year.
In the last few months, however, the waters have cooled rapidly, as if nature were dumping buckets of ice out there.
It doesn’t have a starting or ending date, nor does it have the same celebrity power or get nearly the attention of the hurricane season, but nor’easters are far likelier to have an impact on the Philadelphia region than tropical storms.
On average, the East Coast experiences 12 nor’easters a year, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and the unofficial 2010-11 nor’easter season is about to get under way.
A storm is to form off the Maryland coast and bomb out later near New England. It is likely to affect the region through Saturday, and its powerful backlash may be a major player in the Phillies-Giants series opener. Fortunately, its worst impacts will be well to our north.
Usually it isn't easy to get the attention of jaded New Yorkers, but evidently a cluster of balloons did just that yesterday.
As a New York Post headline today proclaimed, "Sky mystery leaves thousands agape."
Swirling lights appeared in the bright blue sky over Chelsea, and they lighted up the phone lines at the Federal Aviation Administration and the New York Police Department. Callers wondered if they had seen a UFO, and the Post article noted that several Twitter users said they had seen people "vaporized."
The Phillies, Giants, Major League Baseball, and Fox are about to dodge an atmospheric bullet with the timing of this week's coastal storm. The game should go on, since the rain should be long gone by late Friday. But then the storm is forecast to go into a full wind-up and hurl powerful backlash winds through the day Saturday and into the night. At game-time, both the National Weather Service and Accu-Weather have sustained winds over 20 m.p.h. howling from the northwest, or blowing in from left-center, with temperatures in the chilly 50s. Not that Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum necessarily need the help, but right now it appears they are going to get it anyway. A storm will form off the Mid-Atlantic coast tomorrow and become an old-fashioned nor'easter. It may generate 1 to 2 inches of rain around here into Friday. That won't be enough to set off major flooding, but with all the leaf-fall this is the storm-drain clogging season, so expect road-ponding. On Friday, the storm is forecast to bomb out off near New England, and then the winds are going to get serious, with wind gusts past 45 m.p.h. possible. Winds circulate counterclockwise around centers of low pressure, so areas to the southwest of the center experience northwest winds. That would be an ill wind for hitters at Citizens Bank Park.
The updated forecasts are calling for northwest winds -- that is, blowing in from left-center at Citizens Bank Park -- gusting to 28 m.p.h. on Saturday night. Given that the starting pitchers, Roy Halladay for the Phils and rival Tim Lincecum throw 90-plus fastballs over a short distance, and given that both have well-established expertise, one might wonder what difference a little wind would make. Physicist Alan M. Nathan, an emeritus professor at the University of Illinois, has done more than wonder. Take the case of a 95 m.p.h. wind thrown in a 20 m.p.h. tailwind. Nathan assumes a 54-foot flight from the point of release to home plate. Those radar guns pick up the speed near the point of release, but the ball slows down about 10 percent by the time it approaches the hitter. So Nathan estimates an average flight speed of 90.5. The entire trip takes a dizzying .407 seconds. That tailwind bumps up the average speed to 91.5, cutting the trip time to .402 seconds -- and the already precious reaction time. "The ball is going to arrive a little bit quicker," he said. The calculation may not be a perfect match to Saturday's situation. The wind speeds may be quite variable, and the forecasts hinge on a coastal storm that hasn't yet formed. But you get the idea. A tailwind might have one favorable effect for the hitters. Breaking balls would lose some of their sinking actions, says Nathan, and thus might tend to stay up in hitting zones. Unfortunately, the projected wind angle Saturday night, slicing in from left-center toward the first-base line, also might give an extra bite to curve balls breaking toward the right side of the plate. All in all, it looks like a tough night for the hitters. Even if the winds are calm. ..
We're not sure how closely the Phillies' Roy Halladay and the Giants' Tim Lincecum follow the vagaries of the atmosphere, but they would have to like the prospects for Saturday. It looks as though the winds will be blowing straight in, no matter what time the game starts. And for the hitters, it could be hand-stinging chilly, with temperatures topping out in the low 60s and then falling back into the 50s. The extended outlook is calling for steady, strong winds from the north -- that's centerfield -- starting about 1 p.m. Saturday and continuing through midnight. The National Weather Service is forecasting winds through the afternoon at 17 m.p.h., dropping gradually to 13 m.p.h. by 10 p.m. The winds would be courtesy of the backlash from a potent coastal storm -- the first nor'easter of the season -- that could wring out 1 to 2 inches of rain Thursday into Friday. Winds circulate counterclockwise around storm centers, and as this one parallels the coast and moves away toward New England, Philadelphia would experience northerly winds. Not that Halladay or Lincecum would need the help.