Monday, 11:45 a.m.
The past week to 10 days have proved to be quite interesting in the weather. More than a week ago as I was looking at the longer-range forecasts, I noticed the European model projecting some absolutely insane heat developing over the eastern Rockies and central and southern Plains into the lower Mississippi Valley. It clearly caught my attention, and some of it may have been attributed to the presence, for a time, anyway, of Debby in the Gulf of Mexico. I also noticed that despite the intense heat being forecast by the model (and it wasn't alone), the 500mb heights seemed rather pedestrian. I would expected to see 598dm heights or something like that, but they were not even close.
Still, it became obvious by the beginning of last week that this heat meant business, and it was coming east, even stronger and farther north that I had thought just a few days before. Friday, it reached a crescendo, with a large area of the country from the Plains to the East wilting in 100-degree heat and more. It was about as large of an area of that kind of heat I've ever seen!
And the atmosphere just couldn't accommodate that kind of heat, not with it being comparatively cool aloft. Sure enough, thunderstorms developed in the Ohio Valley, then came marching east, then east-southeastward, forming a derecho. I noticed after dinner with my wife Friday evening that some clouds had come in to obscure the sun, and I commented that I suspected thunderstorms were looming over the horizon. Even my daughter (I'm training her well!) made the same observation. When I checked the radar, it was clear they were going to stay well to my south, but that they were also nasty with all of the warnings flying.
Then, as I drove south early Saturday morning to Washington, D.C., to ride in the Total200 event, I began to see just how bad it was. There was carnage virtually everywhere across Maryland, really bad in and around the D.C. area. Trees down everywhere. Large ones. Millions without power. Just unreal.
As we started the ride at 6, I commented that it really looked as if the thunderstorms had cleansed the atmosphere, and they had. The atmosphere had stabilized to the point where it took a while for temperatures to go up on Saturday and never got close to 100 on Saturday, though it still reached the mid-90s. And the humidity was down. The token thunderstorms that did fire late Saturday were all south of the city as it took a while to 'recharge.'
By the way, on that 200-mile ride, of the 150 or so who registered for it, about half showed, whether it was a result of the heat or the lack of power. Another dozen or so changed to the 200K option. Of the remaining 60 plus, only 20 finished. I was not one of them, succumbing to some cramping at mile 144. Knowing how bad it was likely to get if I tried to keep going, I found shade, stopped and called for the support team to come get me. The course was littered with similar stories. At least my friend from State College was one of the few finishers. He just CRUSHED it! His longest ride BY FAR and a job well done. For me, more experimentation with how to keep my electrolytes up in endurance events. The rest of the body was fine with the heat, and I had clarity of thought throughout. I'll get it figured out.
Back to the weather. The Northeast will get a break from the humidity and some of the heat this afternoon and tomorrow, though it will try to come back on Independence Day. It will sort of get cut off at the pass, but once an upper-level trough passes off the Northeast coast late Wednesday night into Thursday, the upper-level ridge that fostered the run of wicked heat last week will blossom again over the Plains on Thursday:
And once again, there's going to be another blast or ribbon of heat that will grow out of the eastern Rockies and across the Plains and head into the Midwest and across the Mississippi Valley. It may not be quite as extreme as what we saw last week, but we're talking a couple of degrees difference, nothing more. It will come east, too. It could easily reach 100 again in Washington, D.C., on Saturday and may get close Friday. It could get to 100 in Philadelphia and probably well into the 90s in New York City. It should get at least as hot in Boston on Saturday as it did over this past weekend and probably a bit hotter before the next front comes through.
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