With Thursday morning's arrival of fall, we observe that in the era in which humans have been trying to quantify the behavior of the atmosphere, by any measure these have been extreme times.
In all likelihood, 2016 will become the warmest year on record in the official federal database, and all 16 of the last 16 months have sent monthly temperature records.
Locally, the region has experienced a dramatic increase in record and near-record warmth – and, in recent years, snowstorms.
The longer-term outlooks favor generally above normal temperatures the next few months, with a return to something approaching normality during the winter.
But for solid reasons, not to mention past performance, you have every reason not to believe in early outlooks. And they have virtually no ability to capture extremes.
We are prepared to say there’s a 100 percent chance that December 2016 won’t be nearly as warm as last December.
Last December was other-worldly warm all over the place, 13.7 degrees above normal here, enough to carry the winter of 2015-16 to the No. 3 hotspot in records dating to 1874 in Philly.
The seasonal forecasts might have been on to that idea, but none saw warmth of those extremes. Last year at this time, the tropical Pacific was brewing a powerful El Niño, an anomalous warming over a vast expanse of sea surface, and its influence in December was evident.
So far this year, the Pacific has been more circumspect about its plans, and you can expect a certain circumspect character in the longer-term outlooks.
This time around, the Commodity Weather Group, in Washington, which serves agricultural and energy clients, is calling for below-normal temperatures in December, and cold November, with January a tossup.
Weather Bell foresees a mild start to December, but cold thereafter in the East with above-normal snowfall.
AccuWeather’s current 90-day outlook has it generally mild into the third week of December.
As for the fall, both AccuWeather and CWG see warmth persisting through November.
With considerably more confidence, forecasters say that the next several day should be splendid.