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

April 2020 Weather Summary

April was 3.1 deg F below normal for temperature. The high for the month was 69.8 F, recorded on April 8. The low for the month was 24.2 deg F, recorded on April 17. There were 7 days at or below 32 F. There were 557 heating degree days and 1 cooling degree day.

April was an above-normal month for precipitation with 5.06 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 1.67 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.34 inches recorded on April 30. There were 15 days of rain >.01 in, 10 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

It snowed two inches on April 18, which had all but melted by the end of the following day.

High wind speed of 42 mph on April 10.

One kind reader remarked that this April seemed to be windier than usual. Here are the wind data for April during the past 5 years (2016-2020):

Year Wind Run (mi) Avg (mph) High (mph)
2016 2850 4.0 43
2017 3200 4.4 38
2018 3500 4.8 53
2019 3050 4.2 45
2020 3350 4.7 42

Wind run is the total distance of the traveled wind over a period of time.

April Wind RunBy any measure, April 2018 was the windiest during the past 5 years.

April 2020 Data

Outlook for May 2020

January 2020 Weather Summary

January was 5.1 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 64.2 deg. F, recorded on January 11. The low for the month was 9.1 deg F, recorded on January 21. There were 23 days at or below 32 F and 4 days when the maximum temperature was at or below 32 F. There were 986 heating degree days and 0 cooling degree days.

January was a below-normal month for precipitation with 2.04 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 1.07 inches below normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 0.55 inches recorded on January 25. There were 14 days of rain >.01 in, 6 >.10 in and 0 > 1 in.

High wind speed of 43 mph on January 8.

January 2020 Data

Outlook for February 2020

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

May 2019 Weather Summary

May was 2.6 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 83.6 deg. F recorded on May 19. The low for the month was 39.6 deg F, recorded on May 22. There were 173 heating degree days and 72 cooling degree days.

May was an above normal month for precipitation with 7.15 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 3.92 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.50 inches recorded on May 29. There were 18 days of rain >.01 in, 12 >.10 in and 3 >1 in.

High wind speed of 34 mph on May 19.

May 2019 Data

Outlook for June 2019

April 2019 Weather Summary

April was 1.9 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 73.5 deg. F recorded on April 23. The low for the month was 22.2 deg F, recorded on April 2. There were 415 heating degree days and 10 cooling degree days.

April was an above normal month for precipitation with 4.24 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.85 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.45 inches recorded on April 19. There were 13 days of rain >.01 in, 9 >.10 in and 1 >1 in.

High wind speed of 45 mph on April 3.

April 2019 Data

Outlook for May 2019

Summary of Winter 2018-2019

Meteorological Winter is officially over. Here is a brief summary of Dec 1-Feb 28 in Stormstown, PA:

Number of days Max T <=32 F: 22
Number of Days Min T <= 32 F: 72
Number of Days Min T <= 0 F: 5
Max T: 58.3 – January 1, 2019
Min T: -8.5- January 30, 2019
Dec Dep from Normal: 2.1
Jan Dep from Normal: -1.9
Feb Dep from Normal: 1.9
Heating Degree Days: 3112
Cooling Degree Days: 0
Dec Precip: 4.97″, 1.87″ above normal
Jan Precip: 1.32″, 1.79″ below normal
Feb Precip: 2.76″, 0.49″ above normal
The outlook for Spring 2019:

2018 Stormstown Weather Summary

2018 Weather Data

Overall, the year’s temperatures were normal. The annual mean of  50.5 F was just 0.3 F above normal. The record annual precipitation of 58.07 inches was a phenomenal 17.37 inches above normal.

Equally phenomenal is that, in 2018, there were no violent tornadoes recorded, EF4 or EF5, in the United States.

January

January was the coldest month of 2018 with a monthly mean of 26.2 F, which was 1.9 F below normal, with a high of 61 F and a low for the month and year of -5 F. Precipitation was about an inch below normal with 2.15 inches of liquid precipitation.

February

February was much warmer with temperatures at 6.1 F above normal. The high was 75 F and the low was 6 F. Precipitation was 3.3 inches above normal at 5.6 inches.

March

March temperatures were below normal with a high of 57 F and a low of 17 F. Precipitation was 1.5 inches below normal with 2.05 inches of liquid precipitation.

April

Much below normal temperatures this month. The high was 83 F and the low was 19 F. Rainfall was about normal at 3.6 inches. On April 4 the high wind speed for the month and year was 53 mph. There was also significant snow on April 2 and April 9. The last day of temperatures below freezing was April 22.

IMG_0243

May

Temperatures were about 6 F above normal with a high of 88 F and a low of 37 F.  Precipitation was 3.85 inches; about 0.6 inches above normal.

June

Temperatures for the month were about 1 F below normal. The high was 90 F and the low was 44 F. Precipitation was above normal with 4.7 inches of rainfall.

July

The temperatures were below normal. The high for the month and year was 91 F and the low was 49 F. Rainfall was 5.68 inches above normal with 9.14 inches of precipitation.

August

The month’s temperatures were 1.8 F above normal. The high was 90 F and the low was 49 F. Precipitation was 1.38 inches above normal at 5.52 inches.

September

Temperatures were above normal this month. The high was 91 F and the low was 42 F. It was also a wet month with 8.20 inches of rainfall. This was 4.22 inches above normal.

October

October was a near normal, just 1.5 F above normal. The high was 85 F with a low of 28 F. The first day with below freezing temperatures was October 25. There were a near normal 3.55 inches of precipitation this month, 0.21 inches above normal.

November

Temperatures began to drop in November and were 5.1 F below normal. The high was 68 F and the low was 15 F. Precipitation was 4.77 inches, 1.53 inches above normal. There were 11.5 inches of snow on November 16.

IMG_0368

December

The temperatures were 2.1 F above normal. The high was 57 F and the low was 13 F. Precipitation was 1.84 inches above normal at 4.97 inches.