July heat takes break

sannarelli@centredaily.comJuly 16, 2014 

A cold-air mass from central Canada has given State College a reprieve from sweltering July summer days.

Some media outlets have referred to it as a summertime polar vortex, because record-challenging daily temperatures could be set this week from Arkansas to Minnesota. Minneapolis, home of the 2014 All-Star game, hit a record-low maximum temperature of 65 on Monday, the day of the Home Run Derby.

Penn State Climatologist Paul Knight, however, said that placing the cause of cooler nationwide temperatures on the polar vortex is inaccurate.

“I would say it’s really not super-extraordinary and to compare it to a polar vortex is a misnomer,” Knight said.

The temperature in State College on Wednesday was 7 to 8 degrees lower than the 118-year average, according to Penn State data. Similar temperature patterns are forecast to continue through the next week.

Knight and local farmers said that the cooler temperatures might slow down crop growth, but won’t have a negative effect on crops.

“The cold weather does not have a big effect, but the cool nights slow down their growth a little,” said Michael Byers, of Demeter’s Garden in Spring Mills. “If it lasts only for a few days, it doesn’t have a big impact, but it makes nice weather for picking.”

Knight said cooler, wetter summers supply better yields for farmers and that crops need about an inch of rain a week to grow at a healthy rate.

July has averaged 3.72 inches of rainfall over the past 118 years, and this month’s rainfall is on a near record-setting pace of 7.25 inches. The wettest July in State College was in 2004 with 7.3 inches.

“I don’t think that’s been the case for other areas around us,” Knight said. “We’re lucky we’re having one of the wettest summers. It’s always good to have rain, and this is when we need it. The rain, other than the urban flooding issues and the Oak Hall landslides, has not been an issue.”

Forecasts call for rain to return this weekend.

Shawn Annarelli can be reached at 235-3928. Follow him on Twitter @Shawn_Annarelli.

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