Joe Lundberg

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From Dry Heat to Tropical Downpours

June 13, 2013; 10:06 AM ET

Thursday, 11:45 a.m.

I'm getting back into the groove of things a day later than planned, thanks to interminable delays at the hands of United in getting out of Dulles and back to State College. That last leg was delayed from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., then midnight, then 12:30, then 1 a.m. We finally got clearance to board and took off about 1:20 a.m. By the time I got home, it was already 3:30 a.m. with no sleep, and my scheduled work time 2:45 a.m. Needless to say, I decided than a few hours of sleep was just a little more important! I am thankful, though, that the maintenance work was completely successfully, and we flew on a safe aircraft that got us home safely.

Today's blog is in two parts: the weather pattern we're in and my time away. As for the weather, when I left Denver it was insanely hot. And dry. It hit 90 on Sunday, then 99 Monday and 100 Tuesday. Both were records. And the dew points were generally in the 20s or lower. Than made afternoon relative humidities in the less than 10 percent range, desertlike. I kept drinking water and more water and never felt hydrated, though I was, which proved to be important on Sunday. But that's for the non-weather part of my visit.

That heat and dryness was bound to lead to fires, and no sooner did I leave the state than one broke out near Colorado Springs. A couple more have since started, and undoubtedly more will in the coming days until more moisture is involved in the pattern, and any afternoon thunderstorms can actually put down some decent rains with them. That's not likely for the next few days.

Even yesterday was toasty in the eastern Rockies and Plains to the Ohio Valley:

But while it has been hot and desert-dry over the Rockies, the air mass once over the eastern Plains and especially the Mississippi Valley and points east is much more humid (I was never so thankful to return to Pennsylvania's humidity as I was Wednesday!) When you take this hot and now increasingly moistening air mass and try to ram in northward toward the jet stream, then bring an upper-level disturbance over the top of the ridge and out across the northern Plains, something was bound to give, and it did so in big way. Look at the severe weather reports from yesterday morning to this morning:

For all practical purposes, this has behaved as a derecho, a long-lived thunderstorm complex that contains a continuous path of destructive winds for at least 250 miles. That severe thunderstorm complex is now rolling off the mid-Atlantic coast, having left behind all sorts of wind damage and a string of power outages.

We're not out of the woods in terms of severe weather just yet, though. The air mass south of the complex remains steamy. For example, Richmond is 88 right now with a dew point of 71, and it's only a matter of time before more thunderstorms erupt that can contain yet more severe weather.

Once this particular severe weather outbreak ends tonight, relatively cool weather will overtake areas from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic. It won't last long, though, as the heat over the Rockies will make a comeback attempt this weekend. That will lead to more showers and thunderstorms from the Midwest on east. As another upper-level feature moves over the top of the ridge and comes into place Sunday night and Monday, there will be more severe weather going into early next week.

If you're interested only in the weather, you can pass on reading the rest. But if you want to know WHY I was away for a few days, then read on! My life outside of these walls is just as much fun to me to share with you as the fun I have talking about the weather in various mediums and markets.

My time away was split into two camps. The latter part of it was spending time in the Newsradio 850 KOA studios Monday and Tuesday mornings, in studio with host Steffan Tubbs before he flew to Tokyo to do the show live from halfway around the world Tuesday morning! The wonders of modern technology!

The other half of the trip was more personal challenge and achievement. On Sunday, I was invited to run in the Skirt Sports 5K, 5 mile and 1/2 marathon, of which I tried the half. It was a beautiful morning for a run with sunny skies, not a lot of wind and temperatures in the 60s as the race started shortly after 7. My goal: finish, plain and simple. Running at altitude made me apprehensive, but I was a bundle of energy Sunday morning before the race! I wanted to get moving and see how I could do!

I finished. By nearly three miles, my longest run ever, not something I ever dreamed I could do or had even wanted to do. I had no concern for time, though the 2:17:32 effort was right there with my training runs in terms of pacing. Fortunately, those longer training runs were done on a bike path with two moderate climbs, and two steep climbs, one fairly long, and they seemed to more than prepare me for the difference in altitude. On the course near Boulder, the one long climb of about 1.5 to 2 miles was not as steep as what I had trained on, and my breathing was not terribly labored. The end result was a terrific thrill that I never thought I could achieve.

Here are a few pics from the weekend I thought I would share:

This was on Saturday at the pre-race packet pickup outside the offices of Skirt Sports. I'm standing with Janet Ehlers, Director of on-line Sales and Marketing at Sports, as we're hamming it up for the camera!

Yes, that IS a Skirt Sports skirt I was wearing, one specifically for cycling, as I was readying for a short ride from Boulder to Louisville.

This was around mile 8.5 of the actual race day Sunday, after the long climb up S. Boulder Road, with a gorgeous view of the mountains just west of town. Priceless!

This was post-race, me grinning from ear-to-ear at having completed it, with Skirt Sports founder Nicole DeBoom.

And yes, that is me in a different Skirt Sports skirt, a running version. While there were some chuckles and giggles, there were far more positive comments. I'll keep them to myself, however! And since I came out at their invitation, part of the deal was for me to 'show off' their gear. For the experience of completing a half marathon, I was more than willing to lay aside any kind of personal embarrassment!

Lastly, I had to show this one, as I promised my server, Meredith, standing on the right of me, at the Tilted Kilt back in the Tech Center in Denver, that I would post this on-line as soon as I got back:

I figured this might be the one place where I would NOT stand out in my gear!

Oh, and the salad and lasagna? To die for! A feast fit for a finisher! :) As it turns out, Meredith is in the process of competing for Miss Arizona right now! Way to go!!!

I am very thankful for Nicole and everyone at Skirt Sports for giving me the invitation to come out to try my first ever half marathon - my longest run ever - at altitude - in a skirt. It was really a great thrill, and my emotions were all over the place upon crossing that finishing line under full power!

Next up? The National 24-hour challenge in Middleville, Mich. THIS WEEKEND. At least it will be on more familiar footing, my bike!

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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About This Blog

Joe Lundberg
Joe Lundberg, a veteran AccuWeather.com forecaster and meteorologist, covers both short and long-term U.S. weather on this blog.