PA 550 Speed Limit

Someone has set up a petition on to increase the speed limit on PA 550 to 55 m.p.h. The petition states:

“The speed limit on PA route 550 south is too low and should be increased to 55mph. A large portion of motorists already consistently drive over 50mph on 550 daily and by increasing the speed limit the road would be made safer as the speed limit would more closely resemble the speed motorists actually travel on the road. This would also likely eliminate most tailgating and strings of traffic behind someone going ‘exactly 45 THE WHOLE WAY DOWN 550.’”

As of this posting, 22 people have signed the petition.

PA 550 is a rural highway that runs from Zion, PA to near Tyrone, PA. The petition does not state which section of the highway it is addressing, or mention that the current posted speed limits are not consistent along its length (35 m.p.h. in Stormstown, 25 m.p.h. in Bellefonte, and above 45 in Huntingdon County). Nor does it mention the no passing zones for much of its length, the limited sight distances, sharp curves, the presence of slow moving farm equipment, or wildlife crossing the highway.

The argument stated in the petition is a logical fallacy. Just because “everyone” is exceeding the speed limit is not a valid argument for increasing it. As stated above there are too many potential hazards to warrant an increase to 55 mph.

July 2021 Weather Summary

July was 0.4 deg F below normal for temperature. The high for the month was 91.8 deg. F recorded on July 7. The low for the month was 49.6 deg F, recorded on July 31. There was a single day at or above 90 deg F! There were 32 heating degree days and 224 cooling degree days.

July was a below normal month for precipitation with 3.08 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.38 inches below normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 0.69 inches recorded on July 7. There were 12 days of rain >.01 in, 7 >.10 in and 0 >1 in.

High wind speed of 43 mph on July 7.

July 2021 Data

Western Pennsylvania Traffic Net Update

The National Traffic System (NTS) is an organized network of amateur radio operators sponsored by the American Radio Relay League for the purpose of relaying messages throughout The United States and Canada. It has evolved from a collection of stations using Morse Code to an expanded system using Morse Code, voice and digital modes.

Amateur radio operators send hundreds of messages each month using the phone and digital modes, during different conditions: summer heat, ice storms, rain, wind, etc. Normally, the messages are routine greetings (“Happy birthday Aunt Mary”) to keep the NTS operators active and well practiced in the event they are needed. When there is an emergency or disaster, The NTS works closely with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) to provide emergency communications. The most common type of disaster-related messages are “health and welfare” inquiries and notifications into and out of the area affected by a disaster. In a time of disaster, it is easy to expand the system by simply creating additional meeting times for the nets with high volume, or by setting up a specific “trunk line” between two points. One such trunk line system is known as Hamshack Hotline. It is a network of phones, connected to The Internet, using voice over Internet protocol (VOIP).

In order to be better prepared, my fellow operators and I would appreciate messages of 25 words or less. All that is needed is the message, a phone number and/or email address, plus the destination town and state. A street address is optional. You may initiate a message by sending the required information to

The Western Pennsylvania Phone and Traffic Net meets daily on 3.918 MHz LSB at 2200 UTC and will begin meeting at 2130 UTC on August 1, 2021.

I regularly check into the Digital Traffic Network (DTN) hub, and into WinLink, to send and retrieve NTS messages.

June 2021 Weather Summary

June was 1.0 deg F above normal for temperature. The high for the month was 92 deg. F recorded on June 29. The low for the month was 41 deg F, recorded on June 23. There were 63 heating degree days and 188 cooling degree days.

June was an above normal month for precipitation with 6.42 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 2.56 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.65 inches recorded on June 13. There were 13 days of rain >.01 in, 10 >.10 in and 2 >1 in.

High wind speed of 44 mph on June 21. The high winds caused tree damage in the area.

Damaged Trees Blocking PA 550 near Patton/Halfmoon Township Line
June 21, 2021 – Photo by George Riley

June 2021 Data

Here is the latest drought summary for Pennsylvania:

May 2021 Weather Summery

May was 1.3 deg F below normal for temperature. The high for the month was 87.7 F, recorded on May 21. The low for the month was 32.4 deg F, recorded on May 13. There were 0 days at or below 32 F. There were 297 heating degree days and 74 cooling degree days.

May was an a-normal month for precipitation with 3.67 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.44 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 1.15 inches recorded on May 9. There were 10 days of rain >.01 in, 9 >.10 in and 1 > 1 in.

The high wind speed for the month was 33 mph on May 26.

May 2021 Data

The developing drought in northwestern Pennsylvania has eased. Our region continues to be below normal for rainfall for the year.

Summary of Winter 2020-2021

Meteorological Winter is officially over. Here is a brief summary of December 1, 2020-February 28, 2021 in Stormstown, PA:  

Number of Days Max T <= 32 F: 24  

Number of Days Min T <= 32 F: 81 

Number of Days Min T <= 0 F: 0  

Max T: 58.1 F – February 24, 2021  

Min T: 2.8 F – February 8, 2021 

Dec Dep from Normal: 0.8 F  

Jan Dep from Normal: 2.6 F  

Feb Dep from Normal: -3.4 F  

Heating Degree Days: 3098  

Cooling Degree Days: 0  

Dec Precip: 3.03″, 0.10″ below normal  

Jan Precip: 1.05″, 2.06″ below normal  

Feb Precip: 2.52″, 0.25″ above normal  

February 2021 Weather Summary

February was 1.2 deg F below normal for temperature. The high for the month was 58.1 deg. F, recorded on February 24. The low for the month was 2.8 deg F, recorded on February 8. There were 14 days when the maximum was at or below 32 F and 26 days when the minimum temperature was at or below 32 F. There were 1031 heating degree days and 0 cooling degree days.

Due to the ice and snow accumulation, which fouled the electronic rain gauge, precipitation data was collected from a nearby CoCoRaHS (PA-CN-18) station. February was an above-normal month for precipitation with 2.52 inches of rainfall recorded, which was 0.25 inches above normal. The maximum rainfall in a single day was 0.68 inches recorded on February 16. There were 18 days of rain >.01 in, 9 >.10 in and 0 > 1 in.

There were 28.3 inches of snow for the month, with a maximum daily total of 6.4 inches on February 1. The 3-day total recorded on February 1-3 was 14.9 inches.

High wind speed of 36 mph on February 24.

February 2021 Data

Due to the epically failed Climate Prediction Center outlooks for February 2021, they will no longer be published here. They can be viewed with the following URL:

2020 Stormstown Weather Summary

Overall, the year’s temperatures were above normal. The annual mean of 52.1 F was 2.0 F above normal. Of course the main event of 2020 was the drought. The annual precipitation of 36.46 inches was 4.24 inches below normal. Most of Centre County was in a severe drought in September.

However, at the end of the year, the drought in Centre County was essentially over.

2020 Weather Data


Snowfall on January 7, 2020

January was mild with a monthly mean of 33.2 F, which was 5.1 F above normal, with a high of 64 F and a low for the month of 9 F. Precipitation was 1.07 inches below normal with 2.04 inches of liquid precipitation.


The mild winter continued into February which was 5.5 F above normal. The high was 62 F and the low was 6 F, which was also the low for the year. Precipitation was 0.60 inches above normal at 2.87 inches.


Dusting of snow on Bald Eagle Ridge on March 15, 2020

March temperatures were also mild at 6.0 F above normal with a high of 73 F and a low of 22 F. Precipitation was 1.71 inches above normal with 5.26 inches of liquid precipitation. The high wind speed for the month and year was 47 mph.


Dusting of snow on Bald Eagle Ridge on April 18, 2020

Temperatures were 3.1 F below normal in April. The high was 70 F and the low was 24 F. Rainfall was 1.67 inches above normal at 5.06 inches.


Spring did finally arrive in mid-May. Bald Eagle Ridge on May 31, 2020

Spring temperatures continued to be cooler than normal in spite of a mild March. May was 2 F below normal with a high of 86 F and a low of 27 F. Precipitation was 1.72 inches which was 1.51 inches below normal. This was perhaps the harbinger of the future drought conditions. The last day of temperatures below freezing was May 13.


Temperatures for the month were near normal. The high was 88 F and the low was 41 F. Precipitation was 0.94 inches above normal with 4.80 inches of rainfall.


July was the warmest month of the year. The temperatures were 3 F above normal. The high for the month and year was 95 F and the low was 55 F. Rainfall was 2.27 inches below normal with 1.19 inches of precipitation.

July also gave us outstanding views of Comet Neowise.

Comet Neowise from Stormstown, PA


Forest fires in the western U.S. provided spectacular sunsets. August 15, 2020

The month’s temperatures were 2 F above normal. The high was 93 F and the low was 47 F. Precipitation was 2.66 inches below normal at 3.42 inches. The drought was getting severe.


Hazy sunset due to the western forest fires. September 22, 2020

Temperatures were near normal this month. The high was 86 F and the low was 32 F. Drought conditions continued with 2.61 inches of rainfall. This was 1.37 inches below normal. The first freeze of the season was September 20.


Fall foliage, Sormstown, October 9, 2020

October was warmer at 1.0 F above normal. The high was 81 F and the low was 28 F. Rainfall was below normal at 2.96 inches, which was 0.38 inches below normal.


Temperatures were mild in November and were 3.7 F above normal. The high was 76 F and the low was 22 F. Precipitation was 3.44 inches, 0.20 inches above normal.


December was the coldest month of 2020. The mean temperature was 32.6 F. The temperatures were 0.8 F above normal. The high was 55 F and the low was 11 F. Precipitation was 0.10 inches below normal at 1.88 inches.

December 17, 2020

15.5” of snow was recorded on December 16-17

2020 Insolation

2020 Daily Solar Radiation W/m**2

Summary of Autumn 2020

Meteorological Autumn is officially over. Here is a brief summary of September 1-November 30 in Stormstown, PA:  

Number of days Max T >= 90 F: 0

Number of Days Max T <= 32 F: 0

Number of Days Min T <= 32 F: 10

Max T: 85.9 F – September 8, 2020

Min T: 22.0 F – November 19, 2020

Sep Dep from Normal: -0.4 F

Oct Dep from Normal: 1.0 F

Nov Dep from Normal: 3.7F

Heating Degree Days: 1176

Cooling Degree Days: 117

Sep Precip: 2.61″, 1.37″ below normal

Oct Precip: 2.96″, 0.38″ below normal

Nov Precip: 3.44″, 0.20″ above normal

The outlook for Winter 2020:

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.