The first extended hot spell of the summer is set to bake the Berkshires this week as a high-pressure system parked over the mid-Atlantic states pumps tropical air from the South into the Northeast region.
With temperatures potentially approaching or even topping 90, Wednesday could be the hottest day since Sept. 11, 2013, at Pittsfield Municipal Airport.
That was the last time the 90-degree mark was reached here, according to AccuWeather.com and the National Weather Service. During last summer, an unusually cool one, the season-long high was 88.
“Air conditioners and swimming pools will have their work cut out for them this week,” AccuWeather.com meteorologist Brian Lada stated in a web post.
Even though the Berkshires will be sizzling, the hot weather won’t qualify as an official heat wave, defined by most forecasters as three straight days of 90 degrees or higher in the Northeast.
With the prospect of high humidity and temperatures peaking on Wednesday, government meteorologist George Maglaras predicted that the heat index — a formula combining temperatures and humidity — could approach the mid- to upper 90s, especially in valley areas.
Showers and possible thunderstorms Thursday could bring some relief from the sultry air, though above-normal temperatures are due through the weekend.
Next week, more comfortable temperatures typical of the current summer season are expected to return.
At AccuWeather, long-range forecasters are casting a wary eye on the Gulf of Mexico and the warm Atlantic waters near Bermuda as conditions ripen for possible development of tropical storms over the next few days.
Water temperatures are above normal, meteorologist Ben Noll pointed out, and favorable atmospheric patterns could lead to the gradual development of an offshore storm. Where it might track remains an open question at this point, he added.
Over the past two months, unusually wet weather has helped keep temperatures below normal in the Berkshires, with just over 13 inches of rain in Pittsfield since June 1, compared to a normal total of 8.75 inches.
Remarkably, until this week the high recorded at Pittsfield Airport for this season was 85, set back on May 8. So far this month, the warmest day was July 19, but only 84 degrees, while last month’s high of 83 came on June 12.
Here are the high-temperature records set by date at Pittsfield Municipal Airport over the next four days:
July 28: 90 (1990)
July 29: 89 (1970)
July 30: 91 (1949)
July 31: 90 (1954)
Note: Temperature records for past years are not available from Harriman & West Airport in North Adams.
Source: National Weather Service via AccuWeather.com