Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Friday, January 10, 2014, 2:12 PM

After two relatively uneventful winters, nature evidently is making up for lost time.

This morning, the region endured a surprisingly vigorous icing that precipitated countless accidents, including at least one fatality.

Ice was the issue in Jersey, and on the Pennsylvania side, a coating of snow preceding the freezing rain helped create a treacherous road slurry.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 8, 2014, 11:44 AM

We hadn’t heard much from the polar vortex in the last hundred years or so, but all of a sudden it has become the Osama Bin Laden of weather.

Just for the hay of it, we checked the Nexis database for the term “polar vortex” in the “major newspapers” category for the last week and found 162 references.

By contrast, for the winter of 1985, when a visit from the vortex drove cosmic cold into the United States, and the mercury plunged to 7 below in Philadelphia, we found only a solitary article mentioning the vortex.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 3:21 PM

The region has witnessed some remarkable snowstorms in recent years, but extreme cold has been relatively scarce for the last two decades.

Just before 4 p.m., the official temperature at Philadelphia International Airport reached 13, and that’s likely to go into the books as the high for the day.

Given the record low of 4 this morning, the average for the day would come in at 8.5, making this the coldest calendar day since Jan. 20, 1994.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 11:43 AM

This morning’s official record-low reading of 4 above Fahrenheit at the airport marked the third daily temperature record of the winter of 2013-14.

Record highs were reached on the first day of winter, 67, followed by a 68 on Dec. 22. In fact it wasn’t that long ago that the temperature hit 60 in Philly; actually, about 28 hours ago.

As our online story noted, the two-day temperature difference of 56 – that’s 60 to 4 – the second-biggest spread in the period of record, just one behind Jan. 8-9, 1978.

POSTED: Monday, January 6, 2014, 2:37 PM

The period of weather records in Philadelphia is one of the longest in the country, encompassing over 50,000 days dating to 1872.

Temperature swings are part of the cost of doing business in the North Temperate Zone, but if your body is slow to respond to thermal shock tomorrow, be forgiving.

Given today’s official high of 59, if the forecast holds up and the temperature drops to 8 or lower officially at Philadelphia International Airport, that would constitute a rarity.

POSTED: Friday, January 3, 2014, 10:59 AM

Snow measurement, as we’ve noted, is far more art than science, and the official measurements for Philadelphia historically have been especially problematical, given all the stations moves and the utter impracticality of measuring snow at a major airport.

With those caveats, we will observe that if you’re a fan of significant snowstorms, you are living around here in the right era.

With the official 9 inches reported this morning at Philadelphia International Airport, this becomes the fourth winter of the last six with two snowfalls of 8 inches or more – at least officially.

POSTED: Thursday, January 2, 2014, 12:35 PM

When snow is in the forecast, most people simply want to know how many inches.

Those of us left with the task of moving it would be better served by knowing how many pounds.

Inch counts are elusive quantities. How much snow pops out of a given amount of moisture depends on physical processes that not even the world’s most-sophisticated computer models can capture precisely.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 5:36 PM

Loyal readers are aware of our skepticism regarding long-range outlooks, and the atmosphere keeps  validating that skepticism.

Recall the forecasts of an active hurricane season; what followed was one that set new standards for gentility in the United States.

As we’ve written, the consensus call among meteorologists was for a mostly uneventful winter, with temperatures a tad above normal and snowfall, below.

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

Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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