Friday, October 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 2:44 PM
Arctic sea ice: It's been thinning; Antarctic's been growing. (Photo from NOAA / AP)

The  final results are in, and the Arctic ice cover reached its sixth-lowest extent this year in the era of satellite recordkeeping, dating to 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

While 2014 nudged last year to No. 7 on the list, the overall seasonal loss between the high and low points – March 21 and Sept. 17 – was the least since 2006, the center said.

The total areal coverage, 1.94 million square miles, was significantly higher than the 2012 nadir – 1.32 million square miles – but the center said that overall ice is vanishing at the rate of 13.3 percent per decade.

POSTED: Friday, October 3, 2014, 11:16 AM

As widely reported, some of the tree species around here and elsewhere in the Northeast got a brisk start on the season with early splashes of color.

In its weekly update, the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry noted that the oaks have been taking their good old times, compared with the early-changing maples, dogwood, and ash.

“This should result in a longer than normal autumn display,” that’s providing some nasty thunderstorms don’t come along with leaf-removing gusty winds.

POSTED: Thursday, October 2, 2014, 4:15 PM

In John Bolaris’s post this morning he suggests that the region might be in for a cold and stormy October.

That certainly could well happen, but four other outlooks we’ve seen come down on the warm side for the month, with one other on the fence.

Based on the questionable history of longer-range outlooks, we are prepared to say that we are unashamedly clueless about what’s going to happen. Those who speculate have our admiration.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 2:57 PM

In its report last week the U.S. Drought Monitor expanded its “abnormally dry” zone to include all of Bucks and Montgomery Counties, portions of Philly and Chester County, the Delco delta, and all along the Main Line.

That map will be updated Thursday, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the yellow spread a little more, even with a shower or two tonight.

For the month, officially Philadelphia has had 1.69 inches of rain, or under 45 percent of the normal 3.65 inches, at the National Weather Service’s station at Philadelphia International Airport.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 30, 2014, 11:32 AM
Two tornados approach Pilger, Neb., Monday June 16, 2014. The National Weather Service said at least two twisters touched down within roughly a mile of each other Monday in northeast Nebraska. (AP Photo/Eric Anderson)

Despite the lifting of a hiring freeze several months ago, the National Weather Service still has over 500 vacancies -- a 14 percent shortage -- according to the weather service’s union.

As a result, union officials say, meteorologists – including the bosses in some forecasts offices --  are working on overdrive and overtime, and combat fatigue might be having an impact on forecast quality.

In the Eastern Region, which covers the densely populated areas from the Carolinas to Maine and from Ohio eastward, 81 positions  -- 15 to 18 percent -- are unfilled, said David Solano, the regional union official and a hydrologist at the weather’s service river-forecast center, in State College  

POSTED: Thursday, September 25, 2014, 5:10 PM
(AP)

The coastal storm now pulling away has been a not-so-gentle reminder that the seasons very definitely have changed. Now comes some more-pleasant reminders.

The U.S. Forest Service has begun posting its foliage updates, based on eyewitness reports, although what we’re seeing on the site right now doesn’t tell us a whole lot.

The Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry map is well-detailed and for our money is one of the best foliage sites out there.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 24, 2014, 1:02 PM

We’ve noticed a harvest of dust recently, a symptom of the general dryness that has ripened across the region.

The precipitation deficits on the Jersey side of the Delaware aren’t as dramatic, but rainfall totals are way below normal for the last 30 days in Philadelphia and the neighboring Pennsylvania counties.

Based on the latest available data from the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center, in State College, through yesterday rain was a mere 33 percent of normal, a 2.8-inch deficit.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 3:25 PM

Recalling how the consensus forecasts worked out last winter, we mention speculation about the coming winter with maximum feasible caveats.

To paraphrase the Ad Council’s famous words, perhaps friends shouldn’t let friends make seasonal forecasts.

That said, on the first full day of the astronomical autumn, we note that the most-recent Climate Prediction Center outlook sees the odds favoring warmer than normal temperatures for the November-January period.

About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

Reach Tony at twood@phillynews.com.

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