Pittsburgh experiences long, chilly summer

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Summer break is winding down, but as children across the city celebrate their last few days of freedom, they probably are sporting sweatshirts rather than swimsuits.

As of Thursday, which saw this month’s low of 52 degrees, the average temperature for August was nearly 3 degrees below normal, and temperatures in DuBois dropped to a chilly 45 degrees overnight.

Current temperatures place this month in a tie for the 10th-coldest August on record, and they are expected to remain slightly below average for the rest of the month.

“It has been a curious summer,” said Lee Hendricks, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, based in Moon. “The most curious thing is we haven’t had any 90-degree days.”

Temperatures have not risen above 90 degrees all summer, with the warmest day reaching 89 degrees in mid-June. On July 29, Pittsburgh saw a record low of 51 degrees, one degree cooler than the record set in 1982. In July, typically the warmest month, the high was 88 degrees, and one day in the middle of the month the temperature reached a high of 68 degrees.

“It seems kind of strange to us,” Mr. Hendricks said.

May and June were warmer than normal, and this is not the coldest summer Pittsburgh has seen. The coolest on record was in 1976, with an average temperature of 67 degrees for June, July and August. So far this summer the average monthly temperature is 69.1 degrees.

Though June had slightly less rain than normal, July had 5.19 inches, which was 1.36 inches above normal. The city has had 2.06 inches so far this month, which is 0.42 inches above normal.

Besides prompting casual grumbling, recent cool and rainy weather has impacted participation in numerous summer activities in and around Pittsburgh.

Attendance at three of four Allegheny County pools — North Park, Settlers Cabin and South Park — declined between 8 percent and 20 percent from last year. Though hours remained the same, rain likely dissuaded potential swimmers, said Allegheny County Parks director Andrew Baechle..

“The nature of outdoor recreation is that it is weather dependent,” he said, noting there was increased business on the department’s ski slopes due to the cold, snowy winter.

High levels of rain led staff at Butler County’s YMCA Camp Kon-o-Kwee Spencer to plan more indoor activities, such as dodge ball and talent shows, said Janne Walters, director of sales and marketing. The nearly 1,300 campers were more likely to be seen wearing sweatshirts, she said, noting that it was nice not having to worry about them overheating or it being too warm to hike.

Kayak Pittsburgh has had steady business and is on its way to surpassing last summer, though rain has forced it to close about a dozen full- or half-day trips this summer, said Venture Outdoors marketing director Jenn Strang.

Moving into the fall, weather patterns are hard to predict, but Mr. Hendricks said El Nino could bring warmer, drier weather.

Stephanie McFeeters: smcfeeters@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2533. On Twitter: @mcfeeters.

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