2020 Western Pennsylvania Drought

The following was recently posted by the State College National Weather Service Office. The chart was produced by The Mid-Atlantic River Forecast Center (MARFC) which is co-located with The State College National Weather Service Forecast Office.

A neighbor asked to explain why Centre County was depicted as being a standout from the other counties.

For the 60-day period (6/13/2020 through 8/11/2020) Centre County’s areal precipitation was 3.2 inches which was 4.8 inches below normal for the period. A normal amount would have been 8 inches. This works out to be 60% below normal which is above the 50% threshold for the red portion of the scale. By comparison, here are the values for the surrounding counties: Blair 47%, Cambria 29%, Clearfield 47%, Clinton 41%, Huntington 43%, Mifflin 47%, Snyder 44%.

The River Forecast Centers use a distance weighting technique to calculate the areal precipitation. A grid of point estimates is made based on a distance weighting scheme. Each observed point value is given a unique weight for each grid point based on the distance from the grid point in question. The grid point precipitation value is calculated based on the sum of the individual station weight multiplied by observed station value. Once the grid points have all been estimated they are summed and the sum is divided by the number of grid points to obtain the areal average precipitation.

Here is a map of standardized precipitation index (SPI).

There is a bullseye of values between -2 and -1.5 over our region.

The SPI is a widely used index to characterize meteorological drought on a range of timescales. On short timescales, the SPI is closely related to soil moisture, while at longer timescales, the SPI can be related to groundwater and reservoir storage. The SPI uses precipitation only, and can characterize drought or abnormal wetness at different time scales which correspond with the time availability of different water resources (e.g. soil moisture, snowpack, groundwater, river discharge and reservoir storage).

Drought for the Northeast United States

As the above map indicates, southwestern Centre County is experiencing a moderate drought. The criteria for drought classification appears below.

July was lower than normal for precipitation for six counties in central Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania July 2020 Precipitation by County

The above graph shows all of the precipitation data I have collected since establishing my weather station in December 2015 until now. This past July was as dry as July 2016. However, August 2020 is on track to be the driest in 5 years.

June 2020 Weather Summary

June was 0.1 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 88 deg. F recorded on June 9. The low for the month was 41 deg F, recorded on June 1. There were 71 heating degree days and 168 cooling degree days.

June was an above normal month for precipitation with 4.80 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.94 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.56 inches recorded on June 4. There were 8 days of rain >.01 in, 7 >.10 in and 1 >1 in.

High wind speed of 32 mph on June 3.

June 2020 Data

Outlook for July 2020

March 2020 Weather Summary

March was 6.6 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 72.5 deg. F, recorded on March 20. The low for the month was 22.1 deg F, recorded on March 1. There were 10 days at or below 32 F. There were 657 heating degree days and 0 cooling degree days.

March was an above-normal month for precipitation with 5.26 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 1.71 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.78 inches recorded on March 28. There were 19 days of rain >.01 in, 9 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

High wind speed of 47 mph on March 3.

March 2020 Data

Outlook for April 2020

2019 Stormstown Weather Summary

2019 Weather Data

Overall, the year’s temperatures were normal. The annual mean of  50.6 F was just 0.4 F above normal. The record annual precipitation of 38.03 inches was 2.67 inches below normal.

January

January was the coldest month of 2019 with a monthly mean of 26.2 F, which was 1.9 F below normal, with a high of 58 F and a low for the month and year of -9 F. Precipitation was 1.79 inches below normal with 1.32 inches of liquid precipitation. Eight inches of snow fell during January 19-20. There was some ice accumulation on January 8.

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We were also treated to a total lunar eclipse on January 20.

February

February was warmer with temperatures at 1.9 F above normal. The high was 58 F and the low was -3 F. Precipitation was 0.49 inches above normal at 2.76 inches. The high wind speed for the month and year was 58 mph, recorded on February 24. Snowfall on February 11.

March

March temperatures were below normal with a high of 70 F and a low of 7 F. Precipitation was 1.8 inches below normal with 1.75 inches of liquid precipitation.

April

Temperatures were 1.9 F above normal in April. The high was 74 F and the low was 22 F. Rainfall was 0.85 inches above normal at 4.24 inches. The last day of temperatures below freezing was April 29.

May

Temperatures were about 3 F above normal with a high of 84 F and a low of 40 F.  Precipitation was 7.15 inches; about 3.92 inches above normal.

June

Temperatures for the month were about 1 F below normal. The high was 90 F and the low was 38 F. Precipitation was above normal with 4.18 inches of rainfall.

July

July was the warmest month of the year. The temperatures were 2 F above normal. The high for the month and year was 94 F and the low was 52 F. Rainfall was 1.61 inches below normal with 1.85 inches of precipitation.

August

The month’s temperatures were 1 F below normal. The high was 90 F and the low was 47 F. Precipitation was 0.72 inches below normal at 3.42 inches.

IMG_0942

A severe thunderstorm on August 18 caused some minor to moderate damage in the area with downed trees and power lines. There was also pea-sized hail and heavy rain as high as 10 in/hr. The maximum wind speed was 36 mph, the temperature dropped 22 F, and the total rainfall was 1.35 inches.

September

Temperatures were 2 F above normal this month. The high was 90 F and the low was 42 F. It was also a relatively dry month with 2.22 inches of rainfall. This was 1.76 inches below normal.

October

October was warmer at 2.2 F above normal. The high was 88 F and the low was 30 F. The first day with below-freezing temperatures was October 19. Rainfall was above normal at 5.42 inches, which was 2.08 inches above normal.

November

Temperatures began to drop in November and were 4.5 F below normal. The high was 61 F and the low was 18 F. Precipitation was 1.03 inches, 2.21 inches below normal. The first significant snowfall was recorded on November 24.

December

The temperatures were 1.8 F above normal. The high was 57 F and the low was 12 F. Precipitation was 0.44 inches below normal at 2.69 inches.

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Snow was recorded on December 2.

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An ice storm was observed on December 17.

2019 Insolation
2019 Solar

 

Thunderstorm Strikes Stormstown

A severe thunderstorm occurred at approximately 4:15 PM EST in Stormstown, PA. Two small trees blocked part of  PA 550, and a large tree fell across the highway, downing utility lines, near Brothers Pizza.

damage

Photo Courtesy Of Tom Majewski

The highway, further north, was also blocked by Sawmill Road. More wind damage occurred in Port Matilda and in State College on N. Atherton Street, Blue Course Drive, W. Beaver Avenue, and Westerly Parkway.

The official Local Storm Report (LSRCTP):

0413 PM TSTM WND DMG STORMSTOWN 40.79N 78.01W
08/18/2019 CENTRE PA 911 CALL CENTER

TREE AND WIRES DOWN

Video of hail in Stormstown.

There was also pea-sized hail and heavy rain as high as 10 in/hr. The maximum wind speed was 36 mph, the temperature dropped 22 F, and the total rainfall was 1.35 inches.

Tstorm

The damage at my home was limited to a badly damaged flagpole. However, the wind had caused a heavy patio chair to be sent down the stairs from my deck to the landing.

IMG_0942

July 2019 Weather Summary

July was 1.6 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 93.8 deg. F recorded on July 21. The low for the month was 51.7 deg F, recorded on July 1. There were 3 days at or above 90 deg F. There were 25 heating degree days and 280 cooling degree days.

July was a below normal month for precipitation with 1.85 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 1.61 inches below normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 0.40 inches recorded on July 22. There were 11 days of rain >.01 in, 5 >.10 in and 0 >1 in.

High wind speed of 31 mph on July 31.

July 2019 Data

Outlook for August 2019

Summary of Summer 2018

Meteorological Summer is officially over. Here is a brief summary of Jun 1-Aug 31 in Stormstown, PA:

Number of Days Max T >= 90 F: 6
Number of Days Max T >= 95 F: 0
Max T: 91.3 – July 3, 2018
Min T: 43.5.0 – June7, 2018
Jun Dep from Normal: -1.0
Jul Dep from Normal: -0.7
Aug Dep from Normal: 1.3
Heating Degree Days: 131
Cooling Degree Days: 590
Jun Precip: 4.70 “, 0.84” above normal
Jul Precip: 9.14″, 5.68″ above normal
Aug Precip: 5.52″, 1.38″ above normal

August 2018 Weather Summary

August was a slightly warm month for temperature. The monthly mean was 1.3 deg. F above normal. There were only two daily maximums at or above 90 deg F. The high for the month was 90.8 deg. F recorded on August 29. The low for the month was 49.0 deg F, recorded on August 24. There were 17 heating degree days.

August was rainy, but lower than July, with over 5 inches of rainfall recorded. This was over 1.38 inches above normal for August and has contributed to a 9 inch surplus for 2018. There were 13 days of rain >.01 in, 9 >.1 in and 1 >1 in. Highest single day’s rainfall was 2.01 inches.