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Central PA, NY Heat Wave: It's A Dry Heat?

By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
7/22/2011, 10:41:15 AM

The July 2011 heat wave continues today and the hottest temperatures are along the I-95 corridor. Some places barely got out of the 90s last night (Baltimore's Inner Harbor only fell below 90 for one hour) and dozens of stations are above 100 this afternoon. As of 3 PM Friday, Newark, NJ is leading the pack with an incredible 108. The New Jersey state record for temperature is only 110!


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Yesterday the highest temperatures were in Central Pennsylvania and New York state. Elmira, NY had the highest reading of official stations and we rose to 100 here in State College, Pennsylvania, home of AccuWeather HQ [Google Map]!


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Many of these readings were in the hills (we are at about 1200 feet here in State College. For our region to be the epicenter of yesterday's heat wave might sound odd, but in our news article about the heat wave, Alex Sosnowski, Expert Senior Meteorologist points out "Ground that is dry heats up much more quickly than if it were moist. In a sense, dry ground behaves like a desert." Checking the 14-day precipitation for the area, all readings over 100 but one (Harrisburg) were in areas that have received little or no rain.

So how hot was it here in State College? I know it's certainly the hottest since I've lived here, and that has been 14 years. The NWS says that "PENN STATE (COOP) OBSERVER REPORTED 99F AROUND 5 PM THIS AFTERNOON...THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1988 THAT THEIR HIGH TEMPERATURE EXCEEDED 95F." That's a 23-year record. Not bad. That was yesterday, and today I am continuing to see numbers I never have on the weather stations that I've setup locally.


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The all-time record for State College is 102 degrees, and the airport made it to 102 just now at 3:30 PM - pretty incredible. We won't know until tomorrow morning whether the Penn State station tied or broke that record -- or the record for highest morning temperature, which is 77. The airport didn't dip below 79 last night, nor did AccuWeather HQ. For those who don't live in the Central PA mountains, that's extremely unusual. We typically get down into the 50s or 60s most summer nights, even when the day is very hot. Yesterday we were in the 90s until 8:20 PM and the 80s until 2:40 AM. We hit 90 by 10:30 AM!


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I'm going to wait until this weekend to do a full report on records broken, and a comparison to last July's heat wave. Last July, four states escaped having towns with record daily highs but already this July, cities in all 50 state have set them. So far this week, 54 stations had never been warmer overnight, and two broke all-time highs. 436 daily high records have been set this week.

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

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