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Heat, humidity and thunderstorms, it must be July

Posted by David Epstein  July 15, 2012 07:26 AM

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A great morning across the area with sunshine and mild temperatures. Humidity levels are moderate but oppressive. We have a disturbance on the weather maps this morning to our west that is producing clouds and eventually some showers and thunderstorms will occur. This area of weather will move through late this afternoon and overnight. We could really use some rain as some areas are approaching three weeks without any significant water. The best part of the day is the morning with the sunshine. The chance for you seeing a thunderstorm is about 50%. Unfortunatley, forecasting which towns get them and which don't is impossible. I will be updating my twitter feed regularly as the storms develop.
at @growingwisdom

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Today

There is a term meteorologists use called precipitable water or PW. Precipitable water levels are going to increase to between 1.5 and 2 inches this afternoon. When the PW increase to these levels it means that the air, from the ground to the top of the clouds is laden with moisture. On a dry day the PW level can fall to .25 inches or less. I have seen the PW get into the 2 or 3 inch range. The number isn't how much rain will fall, rather a measure of how much water the clouds hold. How much rain we then get depends on how fast the storms move and how large an area they cover. With the PW in this range today some of you will see heavy downpours from any thunderstorms that occur. When you hear downpours, or torrential rain in the forecast, you can be sure the PW number is high. Temperatures this afternoon will be in the upper 80s to near 90F and the humidity will increase as the day progresses. I expect to see showers and storms developing in the afternoon and overnight.

Monday
Any showers and storms will exit the region by early Monday. The weather then looks partly to mostly sunny and hot with temperatures reaching into the 90s. Humidity will be noticeable, but not oppressive Monday. The air behind the storms coming tonight is slightly less humid.

Tuesday and Wednesday
These are the two hottest days of the week with highs reaching the 90s. Humidity will still be high as well. There is a chance for a few storms later Wednesday as a strong cold front moves into the region. This front will put an end to this round of heat and humidity and bring back some warm but dry.

Thursday through Saturday
The weather looks wonderful for the end of the week with warm temperatures in the lower and middle 80s and not much humidity. It will become comfortable again for sleeping during this period as well. I am looking forward to the end of the week.

During a typical summer there is a high pressure system area meteorologists call a "Bermuda High" . This weather phenomena sets up off the Carolina coast. Since the winds around a high pressure area blow clockwise, on the left side of the high the winds come from the southwest. A southwest wind in the summer months is hot and humid and that is the type of air that is going to be over the east the next week.

bermuda high.bmp
The humidity will stay under the uncomfortable mark today but temperatures will be a few degrees warmer. Yesterday a few places reached 90F in the afternoon and today most everyone away from the beaches will hit that mark. While this is certainly not extreme heat, there has been some extreme weather this year. If you would like to know how I think about extreme heat this summer read my blog entry on that subject. Click here to read that Weather Wisdom on extreme heat and climate change.


Drought

The drought continues to be very severe in some parts of the country and across the Midwest. Parts of New England are in an abnormally dry category but as of yesterday we are not in an official drought. That said, the top soil is drying very fast and you should be watering any plants you put in recently. I water trees and shrubs one a week heavily to promote strong roots. Watering daily even in dry weather isn't a good idea for most plants.
drought.jpg
The hot temperatures and lack of rain we are going to experience the next week will create some problems for us here in the northeast. We haven't had any rain in a week and unless we get a few storms Sunday, that week could easily stretch into two weeks. Two weeks of no rain this time of year combined with heat will burn out lawns very quickly and wither plants. You may have to water your containers once in the morning and once again in the afternoon. If you are irrigating your lawn, remember watering longer and deeper in much better than watering 10 minutes every day. If you are not sure how much water you are giving the lawn put out a tuna can and turn on the system. Let the system run for 15 minutes. Whatever is in the can is how much rain you are giving the lawn. The top of the can would be about an inch (we are not using super size tuna cans). This works for sprinkler or complicated irrigation systems. You should be giving your lawn at least one quarter inch each time the system goes on. You want to give the lawn that amount 4 times per week. You can increase the time on your system to increase the amount. I recommend about 1/3rd of an inch 3 times per week in dry weather.

Gardening this week
I was on a garden tour yesterday and saw some very interesting gardens. I took a bunch of pictures and wanted share two of them. I put them on top of one another for the blog. The top picture is of a blue Globe Thistle or Echinops ritro. blue thistle and oak.bmp These plants love sun and thrive in very well drained soil. They are, once established, drought tolerant. The bottom picture is of this really cool oak tree growing over a rock. The roots are on the back side, so it appears to just be stuck there. Just one of those wonderful things about nature and you can't buy that one. The pictures are straight of the camera. I am using a Canon SX260HS if you are curious.

I garden for hours and hours each week. My hands are often hurting from pulling weeds and digging. However, a few years ago I started using long-handled garden tools for some of the finer weeding in certain beds around the garden. These tools are perfect for being able to do some precision weeding without bending over or using the repetitive hand motions that end up hurting me so much.

Remember, please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at GrowingWisdom.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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