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Dog Days, Doldrums, However you slice it - we're in the thick of summer
Submitted by Tim Buckley on Tue, 07/05/2011 - 9:25am.
If our recent weather patterns were a big budget Hollywood blockbuster -- our flick would be a major box office flop. To say we've been lacking much plot development in the forecast is an understatement. Yes, like so often happens here in the summer months we find ourselves in the middle of those "dog days" - where each days runs into the other with seemingly little change.
In fact, often times around these parts you'll here the joke, "Even I could be the weatherman during the summer. Partly sunny with a high near 90 and a 20% chance of an afternoon storm." I'll begrudgingly admit that it's a good line, and not even that far off from the truth. The fact is, where we are - the weather simply doesn't vary all that much during the summer months. Of course there are reasons for that! Let's take a look.
If you're a frequent reader of the blog, you won't be shocked to see me relate our monotonous summer 7-day to the Jet Stream --- but here I go again. In the summer months, the Jet Stream (which remember, is just a fast flowing current of wind in the upper atmosphere) is basically confined to the north -- way north. It typically finds itself within a few degrees latitude of the US/Canadian border, which keeps any chilly air masses bottled up in Canada.
In it's simplest terms, you can really boil down weather into conflict. To get big weather systems you need to have conflict. Hot air contrasted with cold air; dry air contrasted with moist air; these battlegrounds make your weather systems. In fact, the term "front" comes from military terminology describing battle formations. Stay with me for a second...
With the Jet Stream keeping the cold air to the north, there's very little opportunity for it to make it's way south and duke it out with the warm air. This is in stark contrast to the Spring where we frequently have cold, dry air battling with warm, humid air, creating violent storms. Without these battlegrounds, there's not much conflict, we don't have many strong fronts, and we're left with very few major weather systems tracking across the south during June, July and August. No conflict - no big weather.
So if we take the Jet Stream out of the equation, we're not left with too many other sources to create weather. Instead of looking at the large scale, we need to look on the small scale. For us, that means the ocean.
We all know if you head to the beach on a hot day you're bound to find some cooler air. And if you head inland on that same day - it gets hot, really fast. There's your conflict! This typical contrast in temperature along the coast fuels most of our local weather during the summer.
The cooler ocean air creates a mini cold front along the beaches that moves inland as the day goes on and the land-sea temperature difference grows. We call this front the Sea-Breeze. As most locals know, this boundary can be a big deal to our local forecast each day. As that front moves inland by the afternoon, it can easily spark thunderstorms under the right conditions.
Of course there is one big, really big, exception to all this talk of boring summer weather -- and that's the tropics. In patterns like this, it's sometimes easy to forget Hurricane Season is upon us. Just one hurricane slamming into the coast can have us wishing for that "boring" weather to come back again. So for now, I guess we won't complain about our dull forecast.
But until then -- "Partly sunny, highs near 90, with about a 20% chance of an afternoon storm." (For the most part) At least now you have a better idea why!
By: Tim Buckley