East Coat heat: Hottest day of the year?

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David Streit
Meteorologist, Capital Weather Gang
Thursday, June 24, 2010; 2:00 PM

Capital Weather Gang meteorologist David Streit blogs, "Let's get this up front; I have very little good news in this forecast. The only break in the heat and humidity comes on Friday and it is fleeting. Rain for the gardeners in town will be very hard to come by. The only thing we might have to show for it is a possible new record high (current record 98) for the date. If National Airport were to hit 100, it would be the first time in triple digits since August 8, 2007."

Streit was online Thursday, June 24, at 2 p.m. ET to talk about the relentless heat and what may be in store for the rest of the summer.

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David Streit: Hello David Streit with the Capital Weather Gang here to talk about the heat!

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David Streit: National just reported 99F for the day a new record for the date.

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Woodbridge, Va.: Is it just me or does the weather seem to be getting more and more volatile? Last summer was downright cool. I remember sitting on the beach last July under a towel because I was cold, and now we're baking in record-setting heat. This comes after the worst winter EVER. And the weather doesn't seem to be getting crazy just here, but everywhere, with torrential rains, flooding, horrible droughts, epic snowstorms. Does it just seem to be getting worse because of the 24-hour news cycle, or is there some science behind it?

David Streit: Great question! Part of the semmingly endless weather extremes it is definitely that we have scads of news coverage to highlight everything. In addition, we have videos of everything too. However, there have been some scientific studies of extreme precipitation events that do show an increase in those extremes.

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Fairfax, Va.: One question: When will it end? And please don't say "October."

David Streit: This question is more how long will it end. There is a strong cold front slated to give us below normal temperatures next week! However, the summer is expected to remain hotter than normal. One suggested cause of this is that the El Nino in the Pacific is now shifting to a La Nina and this often results in above average temperatures for the Midwest and East Coast.

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Arlington, Va.: I seem to remember last summer as being quite temperate and really very nice for the most part. We've already had all of these 90 degree days this year. So, what's different this year? Should we expect this lack of rain all summer? We had all those feet of snow and then not much since in the way of water.

David Streit: As for precipitation, that is a trickier guess but what we are seeing is that the storm track this season is setting up just to the north of us and often when these dry spots are established they can feed off themselves. The dry soils lead to hotter temperatures and the hotter temperatures can actually stabilize the airmass over us.

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Washington, D.C.: What's the chance of a blackout and/or businesses and the government shutting down for the day?

David Streit: I am no expert on the power grid capabilities but yesterday they were saying that they were not near capacity that would theaten such an event.

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SAD for the non-rainy season: Has anyone ever studied the effect of heat and humidity on one's psyche? This weather is WAY WAY worse than the clouds and rain of Seattle and throws me into a depression far worse than what I'd experience there. Every summer I swear I'm moving from here and never coming back. It's just miserable.

David Streit: I am with you on this one. Heat and humidity can be really debilitating to those of us who grew up in drier and more changeable climes. There was a study just released that the stress of heat is cumulative too, in other words the longer it drags on the more negative it's effects.

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Does it just seem to be getting worse because of the 24-hour news cycle, or is there some science behind it?: Have you heard of global warming?

David Streit: As I noted there have been some studies that have shown an upturn in extreme precipitation events over the last 120 years of data.

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Fairfax, Va.: Is this what Texas is like in the summer? If so, I understand why General Phil Sheridan said what he said.

David Streit: Yes this is very typical of summer in Texas. Normal highs in July in Dallas are in the mid 90s.

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This comes after the worst winter EVER.: Well, I' love snow so I'd call it the best winter ever, but I'm a fed so I get paid to stay home when it snows.

But what we were told last winter was that this was typical El Nino weather, as it was accompanied by the PNW having to truck in snow for the Winter Olympics. Is it right to lump in El Nino with "changing weather"?

David Streit: Yes the El Nino/La Nina phenomena has notable impacts on the environment in many areas of the world. These are well documented. Think about how huge the tropical ocean expanse is in the Pacific. If you raise or lower temperatures just a few degrees it has big impact. It is like adding or subtracting fuel from the fire so to speak.

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washinggtonpost.com: Forecast: Likely hottest day of the year...so far. Triple digits a possibility!

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Alexandria, Va.: When should we expect the line of storms that are popping up on the radar and do you think we will actually get them or will they fall apart?

And below normal temps next week? I heart you.

David Streit: I looked at the line and think it should be here in about 2 to 3 hours, so about 4:30 to 5:30. And I would not be surprised to see it gap over us as so many have, such a gap is already showing up in the most recent radar pics around Martinsburg. But I do expect that at least 30% of the region will see storms, but rain amounts will be mostly a quarter inch or less.

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Silver Spring, Md.: When it was 91 at 9:45 a.m., I knew there was going to be trouble.

David Streit: Yes indeed we had a head start on the heat this morning. The only question now is will we make 100 before the clouds cut us off. I think we will and that will be the first time since 2007!

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Arlington, Va.: Just a comment -- about a week ago, records were broken down in Dallas, records that were set in the summer of 1980. I lived in Dallas that summer, and it was brutal beyond belief, notwithstanding all the "Dallas" who shot JR hype. I remember it being about 85 degrees at 9 in the morning, and still above 90 at 10:30 at night. It never rained, because there was a huge high pressure dome over the entire state that even a hurricane couldn't dislodge.

David Streit: You were there in 1980! I am sorry, that year still claims almost half of the summer high temperature records for Dallas today! In fact, there is a string of almost 10 straight days of 1980 records in late June and early July. The 1980s were very impressive with 3 major droughts, 1980, 1983 and 1988.

David Streit: .

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North Potomac, Md.: Will the unhealthy air continue along with the heat this summer? Thanks.

David Streit: I am afraid in this traffic congested town, when it is hot in the summer the air is almost inevitably unhealthy.

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There was a study just released that the stress of heat is cumulative too, in other words the longer it drags on the more negative its effects. : This makes sense. I am always surprised to read that, for instance, July is hotter than August, because August seems worse, and this explains it: by August we're really sick of it. I believe the same phenomenon applies to cold temps in January and February, too.

David Streit: Very true. I have a feeling by the end of August we are all going to be ready for another snowy winter!

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Hot Spring?: Recent reports are saying this past spring was the hottest ever. This surprised me because I thought overall it was pretty cool compared to normal.

How is "hottest" calculated?

David Streit: Good question! Actually Ian Livingston did a great blog on the recent heat just yesterday. He is one of my fellow Capital Weather Gang colleagues. Check it out in our Washington Post blog. As for the hottest you refer to, it was only the average temperature for the period, March 20 to June 20. Another measurement; days over 90 for that period put us well down the list. You know what they say about statistics.

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Bahston: Weather.com is reporting that it is 100 degrees at National.

As for us here in New England we're baking, too, at 91.

Just another excuse to have another Sam Summah.

David Streit: I haven't seen that official report from National yet but would not be surprised. I did see that BWI hit 100! And yes the heat is all across the East Coast today.

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Am I in a micro-climate or something?: I live in Howard County, near Old Ellicott City, and this has been a very frustrating two months rain-wise. We had all those cloudy cool days with thunderstorms in May and I never got enough rain to do more than dampen my sidewalks -- didn't even register in the rain gauge. And June has been the same -- hardly a sprinkle even when the area has been hit by bad thunderstorms. What's going on?

David Streit: Oh trust me you are definitely not alone. Many of us frustrated gardeners have been suffering from a lack of rain for the past 3 months, running about 65% of normal. It looks like we will hit my official drought designation of less than 60% of normal rain for 3 months on the 28th! This dryness covers a large swath of the Mid Atlantic.

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washinggtonpost.com: Capital Weather Gang

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Arnold, Md.: Talk to me about the Air Quality Index. My doctor recommends I telework on code orange and red days (I'm in the sensitive population) and while I really am hoping to get back to work tomorrow, how come this whole week has been code orange, tomorrow is forecast to be code yellow and then Saturday we're back into code orange? What gives? Thanks!

And hopefully my rain barrels filled up in the storm the other night & they re-charge again tonight -- I actually had to get out hose connected to the faucet the other day for the first time!

David Streit: As I just noted in the other response, we are definitely closing in on drought status by my definition and I do not see this breaking for the region as a whole any time soon. The break in the code tomorrow is due to our dip to just a high of 90 and less humidity which will all be quickly back for the weekend, since this "cool" front is very weak.

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Not official, but...: weather.com says 100 for 20004.

David Streit: I am guessing there will be a whole lot of the area's zip codes making it to triple digits since the sun is still winning the battle for another hour at least!

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AQ maps: I have seen the air quality maps on airnow.gov, but is there any place you can get more detailed AQ index maps? For example, is the air quality code orange in D.C. proper, but better if you're in the burbs? Thanks!

David Streit: I am sorry but I haven't been able to locate any maps for AQ. I would guess that the farther you are from traffic congestion, the better off your air would be.

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Texas summers: Actually, it depends a lot on which part of Texas you're thinking of. I've lived in Houston, Austin and Corpus Christi and in Houston you get more rain and slightly lower temperatures. This is probably more like Austin. I came visited D.C. in the summer for the first time while I was living there and the weather wasn't much different. But there it's like this from May to October with no cool fronts. So this is definitely preferable.

David Streit: Not too much different but they definitely get less cold fronts and their normal July temperatures are actually about 4 to 8 degrees warmer than ours. Except for Houston which has the moderating influence of the Gulf.

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D.C.: So even if the rain misses us, will the air behind that line be cooler at least? Or are we set to be in the 90s through the evening hours?

David Streit: We should get slight cooling behind the front and yes the gap on the radar keeps getting bigger, darn it. Look for 80s this evening.

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Fairfax, Va.: So when is a break due in the heat? Isn't it a bit early in the season to be day after day 90 degree heat?

David Streit: The major cold front arrives next Tuesday and we will have blessed days of highs in the upper 70s to lower 80s for at least 5 days!

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The Gulf: This may be way off center but I was wondering if what's happened in the Gulf of Mexico with the oil spill and all the water down there affected, would this have any effect on the weather they have down there?

David Streit: There has been a lot of speculation about it cutting back on evaporation, but I have not seen any confirmation of this. The spill only covers a small portion of the Gulf surface. What I am concerned about is if a tropical storm moves through it could push a lot of this slick onto the coast, very sad.

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David Streit: Thanks for all the great questions and keep checking in with us on the Capital Weather Gang Blog for lots of great news and forecasts.

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