Sunday, April 25, 2004


4/25 AFTERNOON COMMENT:
"Everybody's working for the weekend."

- Unknown artist

It's getting to be that time of year... beware STATIONARY FRONT MONTH.

THE FORECAST FOR THIS COMING WEEK (valid for PA and MD)

Monday - Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Cool, highs below 70.

Tuesday - Scattered showers and storms continue. Cooler, highs in mid 60's. Even cooler at night. Isolated frost in northern areas.

Wednesday - Clearing but windy. Highs mid 60's.

Thursday begins another nice stretch of SUPERDUPER weather. Clear and getting warmer each day. Highs around 75 to start, then touching 80 or more by the weekend.

ANALYSIS OF THE WEATHER PATTERN WE HOPE TO AVOID

Although I personally enjoy May as one of my favorite months, ranking high with July, October and February, it can also be a wickedly brutal month when it comes to rain.

This is the time period when the atmosphere is making final adjustments out of the winter mode and into summer mode. So May is often a preview of the summer ahead. If we get into a situation like what is coming this week... with persistent cool and rain for several days, there will be a backlash of hot weather in June and July. Hence a hot summer.

Examples of "backlash" weather:

May 1988 - Mid Atlantic grumbled under 3 weeks of continual rain and dampness.
Result - Hottest summer on record followed. 25 days in a row of 90 F plus in Philadelphia.

Jan-May 1989 - abnormally warm winter and spring limited snowfall in Pennsylvania.
Result - Long period of rainy, unseasonably cool weather dominated the summer. On June 21 in Baltimore, the temp did not top 60 F!

May 1993 - Cool but sunny weather prevailed most of the month.
Result - Extreme early summer heat on east coast. Early July temps reached 100 in DC-PHL corridor.

So let's home that everything stays nice and balanced... no big wild swings in temperature. No huge heat spells, no radical cold snaps. Everybody just stay calm, breath deeply, relax. Let's just stay around 70 degrees, a few days of rain here, a few days of sun here. If we can accomplish that, we'll have a nice easy slide into summer without the weather pattern being careened into a see-saw effect, with one month counter-acting for discrepancies in a previous month.

It's all about the quota system. There is a certain amount of cold that must run it's course this time of year. Then the warmth takes over. Problems begin when the cold weather stays longer than it is supposed to, which creates delays in the onset of warm weather, which will either intensify the warmth when it arrives, or extend it out longer than necessary. This in turn affects the onset of cold weather in the fall...
you get the idea.

SCIENCE LOVERS PROGRAMMING NOTE:

This Sunday, May 2 and Monday, May 3 will be the showing of an NBC special: "10.5"
Time is 9-11PM Eastern Time both nights. This is the media's depiction of what a catastrophic earthquake would do to the West Coast. It promises to be a visually stunning, emotionally depressing event. As a scientist however, I am eagerly anticipating this show to see how accurately NBC portrays FEMA, USGS and Earthquake science.

Interestingly enough, some Earthquake researchers have predicted a high probabililty of "The Big One" to hit southern California between now and September 5 of this year.

So I hope you can see this show, and learn yet another reason why I prefer the East Coast over the West Coast. Here, we only have destructive hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards.


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