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Extreme Heat and Record Lows, Summer’s Split Personality

31 Jul 2014, 11:11 am


It’s safe to say this summer has been unusual, as temperature records are being broken what seems like everyday. Both sides of the spectrum have been covered, from the record low temperatures in the east to the extreme heat in the west.

The question everyone is asking is “why?” Well, to keep it short and simple there have been a series of abnormally strong troughs in the East and ridges in the West. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but here’s how it breaks down.

You may be thinking “what does that mean?” Here’s the deal: The trough in the East is similar to climatological patterns seen in winter, more specifically this past winter. As the trough sets up, it allows air from the north to start funneling down into the eastern portions of the country, which yields the cooler temperatures. To show how significant some shots of cool air have been, parts of Lake Superior are still reading surface temperatures in the 30s!

Same is true of the western part of the country, just visa versa. A strong set of ridges have set up in the west bringing extreme heat to places like Montana, Wyoming and Washington State. So, instead of northerly, cool winds — that a trough produces — a ridge allows for warm, southerly air to make it’s was north.

Altogether this would help explain why Fairbanks, AK and Pensacola, FL were at the same temperature at one point yesterday!

Don’t expect this inverted pattern to change anytime soon, the Climate Prediction Center has this trend continuing for the foreseeable future. So, try to stay cool if you’re in the West and for the folks in the East…enjoy the fall like conditions.

Meteorologist Thomas Geboy

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