Weather's mood swing puts the chill into Pittsburgh region

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Sorry, pool dwellers and sunbathers, the heat is on its way out.

Although there are more than 50 days of summer still on the calendar, temperatures will be cooler than usual for the foreseeable future, according to the National Weather Service.

Highs in Pittsburgh this week remained around 76 degrees, a solid 5 degrees below the 30-year normal, said weather service meteorologist Matthew Kramar.

"Really, most of the last month has been cooler than usual," Mr. Kramar said. "Yes, there were a few hot days early on, but on the whole, it's been a cool July."

His statement is true for the entire country. In the past week, there were 10 times as many records set for cold temperatures (519) than for warm ones (42), according to the National Climatic Data Center.

So what's the reason for the chill?

In simple terms, the eastern United States experienced an unusual weather pattern.

Although weather systems typically move from west to east, a slow-moving, low-pressure system came from the east toward the Midwest in early July.

Low pressure in the upper atmosphere means cooler temperatures for us on the ground, Mr. Kramar said. And because this weather system moved slowly, the low pressure over the area is expected to persist through the beginning of this month, meaning temperatures will stay in the mid-70s. The National Climate Prediction Center is forecasting lower-than-normal temperatures for all states surrounding the Great Lakes.

"It's difficult to say why it happened this way," Mr. Kramar said. "But we're going to keep seeing this same type of weather pattern during the next few weeks."

Restaurants with outdoor seating will have to prepare if they want to keep offering those tables as far into the fall season as usual.

Katelyn Rowney of Meat and Potatoes, a Downtown restaurant with a spacious patio, said the owners have invested in outdoor heaters and fleece blankets to keep their guests comfortable.

"We're ready to bring them out as soon as it hits the 60s," Ms. Rowney said. "We try to give people a way to sit outside for as long as possible."

Andy Hardie, owner of Dave and Andy's Homemade Ice Cream in Oakland, said he hopes temperatures will at least stay in the upper 70s, as rain has warded away business in July. The month saw 38 percent more precipitation than normal in Pittsburgh, according to the weather wervice.

"It was a cold spring, and then we had the rain," Mr. Hardie said. "The weather has been goofy, but we're doing OK."

Although this cooler-than-normal pattern might tempt a conversation about global warming, Mr. Kramar says not to jump to conclusions.

"Individual weather patterns can't be attributed to climate change," he said. "That's a much broader, longer period of time."

weather - region

Jessica Contrera: jcontrera@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1458 or on Twitter @mjcontrera.


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