Friday, March 6, 2015

POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2015, 6:17 PM
Jersey damage from Sandy. Experts: East Coast hurricane hits once were more frequent. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)

Compared with the period of offical  records, of hurricane activity along the U.S. East Coast was far friskier in the era of Michelangelo and da Vinci, before the waves of European settlements populated the New World.

That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers who pored through sedimentary evidence from Salt Pond on Cape Cod to reconstruct a hurricane climatology for the last two millennia.

You can read how they went about it here, but to simplify, they pored through layers of sand deposits upon which hurricanes leave distinct signatures.

POSTED: Monday, February 23, 2015, 1:13 PM
Allison Neff of South Philadelphia braves the cold weather on South Broad Street on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. ( STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer )

Daylight-savings time begins March 8, a week from Sunday, when the sun will be setting at 7, and enough light for baseball practice will linger for a good 30 to 45 minutes longer.

Evidently, however, the clock change will do nothing to fast-forward the seasons, as the longer-term outlooks now see below-normal persisting through at least through the first 10 days of March.

Sunday broke a streak of 11 consecutive days of below-normal official temperatures in Philadelphia, thanks to several hours of snow-and-ice melting sunshine.

POSTED: Friday, February 20, 2015, 11:34 AM

February cold is nothing new – we’d like to say this would be a bigger story if this were happening in July – but the intensity of this late-month cold is somewhere between unusual and rare.

As we’ve written, this will be the coldest Feb. 20 in the 141-year period of record by a comfortable (or uncomfortable) margin.

After a low of 2, just missing the record of 1 set in the bitter winter of 1979, the official average temperature for Friday will come in at about 10, beating the old record, set in 1893, by a cool 4 degrees.



POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2015, 12:05 PM
Ice floes drift by the Race Street Pier on the Delaware River Waterfront Feb. 17, 2015. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer )

Despite the ever-growing power of the February sun, ice continues to build on the region’s waterways and that is likely to continue into the weekend, thanks to one of the harshest late-season cold outbreaks in the period of record.

So far, no major navigation problems have been reported, but the U.S. Coast Guard is restricting traffic north of the Betsy Ross Bridge to steel-hulled vessels, said spokesman Lt. Nick Woessner.

Woessner said while the river is covered with “a good amount, it’s all drift ice,” as opposed to packed.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 11:47 AM
View from Pier 3 on the Delaware River on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. (Al Borden/Philly.com reader)

Temperatures have averaged close to 7 degrees below normal so far this month in Philadelphia, and the Delaware River is showing the effects.

The National Weather Service reports that as of Sunday, ice was extending about 100 feet from the east shore at Cinnaminson.

A few days earlier, it reported ice reaching about 100 feet from the west shore at Trenton.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2015, 11:30 AM
Peco lineman Tom Kelly removes ice from power lines after a fire at 52d and Locust Streets. The fire was reported at 3:59 a.m. in the 5100 block of Locust and spread to nearby buildings. No injuries were reported in the blaze, but it left a chilling scene. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Three of the lowest temperatures in the 141-year period of record in Philadelphia have occurred in February, along with some brutal cold snaps.

In recent years, however, prolonged February cold has been noticeably absent, albeit not necessarily missed.

Based on the forecasts, with an average of about 15 degrees through Saturday in Philadelphia, this week is a lock to become the coldest seven-day period in February since the deep freeze of 1979 that was punctuated by the Presidents Day blizzard.

POSTED: Monday, February 16, 2015, 6:50 PM
Cold fact: Hard to hit zero in Philly. (AP)

In the period of record dating to the 1870s, the official temperature in Philadelphia has slipped to zero or below 45 times.

But it hasn’t happened once since Jan. 19, 1994.

Granted, generally this has been a warmer period in the region, with slight increases in “normal” high and low temperatures on the official National Weather Service lists.

POSTED: Monday, February 16, 2015, 1:41 PM
A mound of snow in Roxborough in January 2014; "dendrites" led to hefty accumulations. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)

As usual, the snow forecasts have a certain air of ambiguity. For example, doing the math on the National Weather Service forecast for Philly yields of range of 2 to 6 inches.

Obviously, that range has something to do with uncertainties about the path and intensity of the storm, that “100 percent probability” notwithstanding.

But it also has to with the esoteric universe of microphysics.  

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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