Midsummer Musings: Hot and hotter

With the atmosphere once again on simmer, at the midpoint of the meteorological summer, the temperature at Philadelphia International Airport already has reached the 90 mark 25 times.

The record, 52, set in 1991, probably is out of reach, but it would be an upset if the summer of 2010 didn't end up being one of the hottest ever.

The consensus among those who dare to venture into the long-range business is that August will be another toasty month. Joe Bastardi, the long-ranger at Accu-Weather Inc., has said it may be the hottest of the summer months.

In the outlook it released this morning, the goverment's Climate Prediction Center has most of the country in the above-normal zone in August. It has Philadelphia above normal the rest of July. 

Other than the thermometer and your electric bill, here are a few other things to watch in the weeks ahead:

Drought. No kidding. The first half of the month has been quite wet, but the longer-term forecast does see some drying out. Drought is way overdue. We haven't had one around here going on seven years; on average, they have been showing up every three years.

Hurricanes. The season is off to a quiet start, but that's not unusual, and the forecasts remain scary. Climatologically, the action doesn't really get cooking until mid-August.

La Nina. The equatorial Pacific is cooling, and it appears that a La Nina is all but inevitable. That's not good for the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. During La Nina, the winds that can shear off hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin become negligible.

Looking way ahead, a La Nina would have some influence on the winter. We've had wild and mild winters during La Nina, but the leitmotif is persistence -- what happens tends to keep happening.

Long-range outlooks. If August turns out to be pleasant, and the hurricane season, calm, score another one for nature over the human forecasters.