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More storms, possibly severe, in forecast … so how can Philly July rainfall be below normal?

In what might qualify as noteworthy these days, Thursday was the first rain-free day of a gloomy, relentlessly soggy week that has tormented portions of the city’s collar counties, shut down Hersheypark with torrents of chocolate-covered waters, 

 

 

The Wyse Choice via AP That’s not chocolate, but muddy waters in this aerial image of Hersheypark flooding earlier this week.(The Wyse Choice via AP)

But Thursday’s rain respite evidently will have a short shelf life:  late in the day or in the evening.

The high levels of water vapor and the atmosphere’s energy look ripe for setting off storms that could produce potent gusts, .

Some flooding isn’t out of the question Friday, said Alan Cope, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

“A lot of the ground is still pretty saturated, so we’re still concerned about localized flooding,” he said.

But the Schuylkill and the Delaware River are forecast to stay well within their banks. And while the Susquehanna climbed above flood stage Thursday in Harrisburg — perhaps related to moisture from the Chesapeake Bay — the local rivers were well-behaved.

Coming into the sog-a-thon, the region had been generally dry. And for all the tumult this week, officially Philadelphia’s rainfall for July remains below normal – just over 2.9 inches through Wednesday, compared with 3.5, the normal through July 25.

Despite Wednesday night’s horrific downpours, areas along I-95 were spared the deluges that creamed areas to the west.

By comparison, only 1.38 inches fell upon Philadelphia through Wednesday, and 1.27 on Camden County.

Forecasters say that high pressure over the Atlantic has blocked movement of all this moisture but that its western flank has provided a measure of protection from I-95 east, not that it’s been a week in San Diego along the I-95 corridor.

“The heaviest rain certainly was to the north and west,” Cope said. The deluges inundated the lower and middle Susquehanna with a particular ferocity, said Cope, and that rainfall probably was enhanced by winds from the south blowing over the Chesapeake.

In addition to Friday’s expected rain, showers are back in the forecast for early next week; however, another prolonged siege of tropical-like rains and dropped ceilings isn’t expected.

“The pattern has changed,” Cope said. “So we don’t have that long fetch of flow out of the tropics.”

In the meantime, all the moisture also has provided a measure of protection from one of summer’s less welcome visitors: heat.

This is the season for atmospheric caprice, but no 90-plus temperatures show up in forecasts for the next 10 days.

“We’re not looking at any major heat waves in the near future,” Cope said.

 

Published: July 26, 2018 — 11:41 AM EDT | Updated: July 26, 2018 — 8:10 PM EDT
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