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Weather in focus

By Tim Harris
Staff Writer
Good Morning. Near-record heat is headed to the Northeast, and it’s going to feel different than the recent extended, oppressive heat in the Southwest.

In the Southwest, dew points have been low, meaning the air is relatively dry. But dew points in the Northeast are forecast to be in the 70-75 degree range. In that kind of humidity, it can be hard to cool off and the heat can really make you suffer. As northeastern heat indexes soar into the triple digits, it’s an important reminder to keep heat safety in mind, especially during periods of high humidity.

Weather In Focus

A train travels through a forest of barren trees.
(AP/Matthias Schrader)
Prolonged drought has contributed to the death of swaths of spruce trees in Germany’s Harz Mountains. Bark beetles have invaded, resulting in the mass loss. Healthy trees can fight off the pests with tree resin, but Harz spruce are weak and susceptible due to weather extremes such as storms and droughts in recent years, according to the Harz Tourist Association.

What We’re Tracking


When was the first practical electric vehicle developed in the U.S.?

  1. 1911
  2. 1891
  3. 2008
  4. 1950
See the answer at the end of this newsletter.

This Caught My Eye

Photograph of smiling meteorologist Chris Dolce wearing a flannel shirt. Chris Dolce
Senior Digital Meteorologist
Record-shattering stretches of 100- and 110-degree heat could finally be snapped in the Desert Southwest from an upcoming weather pattern shift.

Phoenix has now had 27 days of 110-plus-degree heat in a row, easily crushing its previous record of 18 consecutive days.

El Paso, Texas, and Tucson, Arizona, are also still in the midst of record-long streaks of 100-degree heat at 41 days each.

All of those streaks could finally end by around Sunday, Monday or Tuesday of next week as the heat dome over the region shifts eastward toward the Southern Plains.

Not only will that drop temperatures closer to average for this time of year, but the clockwise flow around that high will help draw moisture northward from Mexico. That will give parts of the Southwest a noticeable increase in monsoonal thunderstorm activity beginning this weekend.


Weather Words

(Facebook/Cecily Suchil Villarreal via Storyful)
“Gustnado” is a slang term for a quick spinup along a thunderstorm’s leading edge of outflow winds, or gust front, rather than a full-fledged tornado.

Gust fronts are associated with rain-chilled air descending in a thunderstorm’s downdraft, which then spreads out laterally when reaching Earth’s surface. The gustnado is a small, usually short-lived whirlwind that forms within the gust front and can be seen in the form of rotating dust or a debris cloud in the air, giving it a tornado-like appearance.

Gustnadoes are unique from tornadoes in that they rotate and are in contact with the ground, but gustnadoes do not extend from a thunderstorm cloud. Picture a tornado where the top doesn’t hit the storm clouds above. Gustnadoes are not technically tornadoes but can produce minor damage such as breaking windows, snapping tree limbs and tossing lawn furniture.

Check out this video of a 2017 gustnado in Bakersfield, California.


Some Birds Chase Uniform Weather Conditions All Year Long

A yellow warbler, a small bird, sits on the tips of the photographer's fingers.
This file photo shows a yellow warbler, an example of a bird that might be highly vulnerable to weather variability. (USGS/Joan Hagar)
You probably know that some bird species migrate based on the changing of the seasons. But did you know some birds chase strictly the same weather conditions all year long? New research from Yale University fills in some knowledge gaps, revealing what types of birds are vulnerable to weather variability.

Researchers found that long-distance migrant birds and some small-bodied birds are excellent at tracking their weather condition “niche” and rely on consistency. Researchers say other types of birds – large-bodied birds and herbivorous or omnivorous birds – have a little bit more “wiggle room,” meaning they may fare better under a changing climate.


1949: Goodbye Propellers
Police officers rescue a motorist from floodwaters in St. Louis on July 26, 2022.
Prototype De Havilland Comet, July 27, 1949 (Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
On this date in 1949, the British De Havilland Comet, the world’s first commercial jetliner, took its maiden test flight in England. This historic flight would signal an eventual end to commercial planes using piston engines and the beginning of a revolution in commercial aviation. Comet’s inaugural test flight lasted 31 minutes and was generally hailed as a success, despite later safety incidents and deadly crashes.

In the U.S., most piston engine airplanes had unpressurized cabins and were unable to reach heights sufficient to fly over storms like modern jets can, which meant the flying experience was sometimes unsettling. Professor Janet Bednarek of the University of Dayton wrote that due to bad weather, “Delays were frequent, turbulence common, and air sickness bags often needed,” on piston engine flights.

But by 1952, jet passenger service had officially begun with a 44-seat flight from London to Johannesburg operated by the British Overseas Aircraft Corporation. Jetliner service spread quickly, offering lower fares, more reliable service and increased safety. In 1955, for the first time ever, more Americans traveled by airliner than by train. By 1972, almost half of all Americans had flown – many business travelers, informally known as the “Jet Set,” would regularly zoom from coast to coast or across the ocean.

B. 1891
In 1891, a chemist from Des Moines, Iowa, named William Morrison invented an electric carriage capable of going 14 MPH. Read more about early electric cars in America here.

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