Rain-free Fourth?

While the West has baked in almost unimaginable heat, our region has been swamped, all part of a stubborn upper-air pattern that put June in the record books across the country.

"It's been a steady-state pattern," said Dave Dombek, a meteorologist at Accu-Weather Inc."Nothing much has changed."

The potential for heavy showers is in the forecast once again today, and the National Weather Service has posted a flash flood watch throughout the region.

But indications are that the pattern is about to relent, or at least shift to the left, said Dombek.

A huge ridge of high pressure over the North Atlantic, the Bermuda high, is forecast to nudge westward the next few days, and that would be welcome development for anyone with outdoor plans.

The descending currents of air in high pressure tend to discourage clouds and rain, and the western flank of the ridge could make it far enough westward to keep the region dry on the Fourth.

"I don't want to promise it yet," said Dombek, but he added that the Shore has a decent shot at a dry Fourth and dry weekend, albeit a warm one. The Poconos might not be quite as fortunate.

And  a westward shift would have huge implicaitons for weather across the country. The overal pattern has been characterized by a powerful ridge in the West, with a mirror-opposite area of lower pressure, favoring storminess, in the East.

The upper-air flow has been ideal for luring tropical moisture from the Gulf to the Midatlantic and Northeast.

An expanding Bermuda high would displace that trough now in the East, and allow for a modest heat wave to build in during the weekend and early next week.

"It's not extreme," he said, and one reason is elementary.

The soils and foliage are so wet that the sun has a lot of evaporating to do before it can heat up the ground.