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Join Action News' Chief Meteorologist Cecily Tynan and Meteorologist Adam Joseph for the 2021 Summer Weather Outlook Town Hall.
CECILY TYNAN: Welcome to our latest "Action News Town Hall." This time it's all about the weather. I'm Cecily Tynan along with Adam Joseph. Over the next 30 minutes, we'll take a look at the diversity of our tri-state area, the ocean on one side, mountains on the other, different elevations, and how it affects our forecasts.
ADAM JOSEPH: And our team of meteorologists is also sharing their experiences on the job, and we're looking ahead to the upcoming summer season and what you can expect.
CECILY TYNAN: But first, we're taking an in-depth look at how climate change is impacting our region and what groups are being most affected. I'm in Darby, a borough in Delaware County. Look around. This isn't a place you'd expect to see a great concern for climate change, but it is. Because like many neighborhoods around here, Darby is beside a creek, a waterway that overflows again and again, especially when tropical systems arrive.
Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy, more recently, Isaias, all put this area under water as well as the Eastwood section of Philadelphia, about four miles away near the airport.
CHRISTIE ILETO: What you're looking at our live pictures of 82nd and Linberg in Southwest Philadelphia, you can see that part of this block is completely submerged underwater. Now, investigators believe that this was caused by the flooding of nearby Darby Creek during the torrential downpours that we had throughout the morning and midday. The fire department has made multiple water rescues.
CECILY TYNAN: Warmer oceans produce more intense hurricanes, not only impacting the coast, but creating devastating inland flooding. When creeks rise, in many cases, the water has no place else to go put into homes.
- My house is flooded, my whole living room. Water is coming through the backyard. Water is coming through the living room. It's going up to my tables.
CECILY TYNAN: Experts also point to a disparity in the effects of climate change. Darby, for example, has twice the national poverty rate. Many low-income neighborhoods, where housing is cheaper line flood plains, and the floods have become more intense. 7 of the top 10 biggest floods for Darby and nearby Chester Creek have occurred during the past 20 years.
- I got 9 foot. I got 8 foot. I got 7 foot. I got 6 foot. Last year, I got 2 foot. The year before that, I got 2 foot, and on '14, I got 7 foot.
CECILY TYNAN: For victims of our increasing extreme weather, it's become an issue of environmental justice.
- I will not be back here, definitely not be back here. I wouldn't wish anybody to live here with that creek back there. The trend is very clear. Average seasonal temperatures from 1970 to now in Philadelphia show warming at the rate of 2.5 degrees in spring, summer, and fall. But winters, by far, are warming the fastest, with nearly 5 degrees over the past 50 years.
Our winters are warmer, with a lot of rain and ice storms as well as blockbuster snowstorms. 4 of our top 10 biggest snowstorms hit during the past 20 years. National Geographic projections indicate that if current trends continue, by the 2070s, Philadelphia will feel more like Northeast Arkansas in terms of temperature and precipitation patterns. Average maximum winter temperatures will climb from 41 to 49 degrees.
Average maximum summer temperatures, they'll jump from 84 to 93 degrees, and this is a staggering forecast. Extreme heat-- that means days above 95 degrees-- would rise from an average of 6.5 now to as many as 52 in the 2070s.
ADAM JOSEPH: We asked you, our viewers, to send questions you have about the weather, and we got a lot of them and we thank you for responding, and we'll start with this one from Dennis in South Philadelphia. "Summers have felt more muggy in recent years. Have summer dewpoints been rising along with the increasing temperatures?" Dennis, you're a good observer here. Take a look at this. We actually break things down by 30-year periods.
So that 30 year period, from 1961 to 1990, hours above 90 degrees in Philadelphia was just over 2,000. We more than doubled the amount of hours in the last 30 years from 1991 to 2020. So yes, we have hotter summers, and hotter air actually holds more moisture, so we've also seen an increase in those dew points above 70 degrees. When you're talking about a tropical feeling outside, a 16% increase in the last 30 years with over 18,000 hours of that very intense humidity.
Now, to the newest member of our team here at "Action News." Meteorologist Brittany Boyer joined us just a few weeks ago. She was born and raised in the Delaware Valley. She's a local and is already a perfect fit. Meteorologist Cecily Tynan talked with her recently outside of our six ABC studios about her journey to get here.
CECILY TYNAN: I want to use this opportunity to introduce "Action News" viewers to meteorologist, Brittany Boyer, the newest member of our "Action News AccuWeather" team. I don't want to say welcome to "Action News." I want to say welcome back. Because you're no stranger.
BRITTANY BOYER: I know. It's crazy. I was an intern here 11 years ago. I remember the last day of my internship I was devastated to leave. And here we are now, 2021, I'm back, I'm an employee, and I'm super grateful to be a part of the team.
CECILY TYNAN: And you're from this area originally, right?
BRITTANY BOYER: I am. I grew up north and west of the city in Montgomery County, around the Collegeville area. So I haven't really lived in this area since high school, so a lot has changed, but at the same time, a lot is still the same. I've heard from high school teachers, middle school teachers, so it's good to be back in the community.
CECILY TYNAN: And I know your parents are really happy you're back.
BRITTANY BOYER: Oh, yes, yes. My mom is my biggest fan. She's thrilled to have me home.
CECILY TYNAN: That never changes, by the way.
BRITTANY BOYER: It doesn't.
CECILY TYNAN: So you spent several years at "AccuWeather." Tell me about your experience there.
BRITTANY BOYER: So unlike here, I was doing the weather nationally, and I've lived in Pennsylvania my whole life. So it was more, for me, learning different topographies, the Pacific Northwest, the Southeast, hurricane season, severe weather outbreak. So it was really a challenge for me to just learn all those different types of weather, but it was an amazing challenge. I learned so much about meteorology, also about geography, different regions of the country. So really good opportunity, a lot of great meteorologists there.
CECILY TYNAN: And when you came back here, you know how to say Schuylkill and Conshohocken.
BRITTANY BOYER: I can spell it too, which is a bonus.
CECILY TYNAN: That's a challenge. A lot of us have stories and memories of big storms here, epic events. I remember the blizzard of '96. I had been here for a few months. Now, I'm dating myself, but you probably have some memories as well of that storm.
BRITTANY BOYER: I do. I was pretty young back in the '90s, but I remember it was a time where I think you were the only woman on TV at the time.
CECILY TYNAN: I was.
BRITTANY BOYER: And I remember those live shots. You used to be a long City Line Avenue. It was snowing like crazy. I think your hair was red back then.
CECILY TYNAN: Yeah, it was. I went through two different styles.
BRITTANY BOYER: But yeah, I remember that storm. I mean, we had over 2 feet of snow, and that was really one of the storms that just kind of drew my interest into weather. I love snow, and you kind of really paved the way being that first female meteorologists that I saw on TV. I thought that's really cool. I want to do something like that too.
CECILY TYNAN: Well, thank you. And you saw me freezing in the snow, and you still wanted to come and do this.
BRITTANY BOYER: I did. I did, and I'm here now, so I'm super grateful. I met Matt O'Donnell when I was in high school. I saw him here when I was an intern. I just showed David Murphy a picture of us from 11 years ago, and he was like, look at how much more gray my hair is.
CECILY TYNAN: You look exactly the same. Everybody else looks different.
BRITTANY BOYER: Yeah, a lot of familiar faces, but it's really cool now to be able to say that's my coworker.
CECILY TYNAN: Well, I have to say we're all thrilled to have you.
BRITTANY BOYER: Thank you.
CECILY TYNAN: And I know our viewers feel exactly the same way.
BRITTANY BOYER: Thank you so much.
CECILY TYNAN: Ladies and gentlemen, meteorologist, Brittany Boyer. She's back. It's about time.
It's so great to have Britney join our team. She's a fantastic addition. She's like a ray of sunshine.
ADAM JOSEPH: She is, and a superstar and we're going to be learning from her as well, I can tell you that.
CECILY TYNAN: Absolutely.
ADAM JOSEPH: All right. Throughout this half hour, we'll be sharing photos of our favorite places on the planet. They are inspired by the "National Geographic," #ShareYourSpot, so this is the first one from me.
CECILY TYNAN: Look at that.
ADAM JOSEPH: This is from Provincetown, Massachusetts. This is a peaceful destination at the tip of Cape Cod. You got the marsh on the left. You got the ocean on the right. When we visit as a family every single year, all of life's struggles just wash away.
CECILY TYNAN: Beautiful.
ADAM JOSEPH: Longevity, it is a key word when it comes to the 6 ABC AccuWeather team. Cecily and I have worked together in the evenings for more than a decade now.
CECILY TYNAN: That's why I call you my little brother. David Murphy and Karen Rogers, well, they've been side by side for 17 years on "Action News Mornings." During that time, how we bring you the forecast has changed in a big way.
ADAM JOSEPH: And here's a look at their very busy daily routine.
KAREN ROGERS: It's 3:30 in the morning, which means it's time to fire up four weather computers and crunch time. Let's get this day started. People probably have no idea how intense "The Morning Show" is.
DAVID MURPHY: Probably not.
KAREN ROGERS: It's like a roller coaster, man. Strap yourself in. You're going in for a ride. Ready for the 5 o'clock show, Murph?
DAVID MURPHY: Nope.
CECILY TYNAN: Traffic and AccuWeather together. Mr. Murph.
DAVID MURPHY: Things have gotten so busy on this "Morning Show," and we're doing so many different ways of communicating the weather story and communicating with viewers.
KAREN ROGERS: Then we should be in the low 70s.
DAVID MURPHY: That you kind of know that point in the morning where I am super intensely preoccupied on that. There's just tons of things to do, and particularly, that first few hours, it's very intense.
KAREN ROGERS: And the job has changed so much over time. You were here, and I was filling in at first when you were using the little magnets.
DAVID MURPHY: Magnetic happy clouds.
KAREN ROGERS: Times have changed in a big way.
DAVID MURPHY: Yeah, they have. Satellites have gotten better and better, temperature readings over the ocean, and the models have just gotten faster.
KAREN ROGERS: Years ago, we weren't so concerned about an hour-by-hour forecast. We're down to minute by minute now. Just got off the air. What happens now, Dave?
DAVID MURPHY: Just you wait. It's all set up for Facebook Live. As the information technology has exploded and we were one of the first stations to jump on having our own website and then really getting involved with each social media platform as it would roll out. Now, there's tons of ways for viewers to interact. Don't you feel you have more of like a personal relationship?
KAREN ROGERS: A relationship. And when their names pop up, I'm like, oh, hey, Gloria. How are you doing? Betty Boo, I'll never forget that name. I'll be in my sleep thinking of Betty Boo. Betty Boo, I haven't seen your name in a while. Nice to see you.
You know, we both do Facebook Lives every morning. We do the weather radio to send it out to all the forecasters; weather discussion that people get on the website; Twitter and Instagram. I love that they've allowed us to be more creative in that way. I really enjoy making Instagram weathercast, like when I was so excited that we finally we're forecasting a quick summer-like pattern.
DAVID MURPHY: I am more confident as a forecaster because technology has gotten better. I love the fact that we have different models that we can show viewers, and I think just this morning, we were showing two because they didn't quite totally match up. I think that is interesting, to draw viewers into the forecasting process and see how the challenges we sometimes have.
KAREN ROGERS: We've been on the air for two hours, only three more to go. We're in the 7 o'clock hour now, where "Good Morning America" airs on 6 ABC, but we're still on the news here because we're streaming live. We do the "Rush" at 7:00 and then "Brighter News" at 7:30.
DAVID MURPHY: About 4 and a 1/2 hours now in and a couple of more "Good Morning America" [INAUDIBLE] Don't you think it's kind of fun kicking off, people say?
KAREN ROGERS: It's so great. There's a different vibe to the morning. I think that's also why we're maybe even so much closer.
DAVID MURPHY: And if we're having fun and laughing, which is easier to do because you, me, and those other two over there, Matt and Tam, have been with each other for so many years. People always say, jeez, you guys just look like such good friends, and we are. And I hope that carries over. I think it does.
TAMALA EDWARDS: Perfect for a romantic dinner and a champagne toast for Karen Rogers and her husband, Kevin. Today is 25 years their anniversary.
KAREN ROGERS: Thank you.
TAMALA EDWARDS: So we have to say congratulations one more time.
MATT O'DONNELL: Oh by the way--
TAMALA EDWARDS: We adore Kevin.
MATT O'DONNELL: --you still have to work tomorrow morning.
DAVID MURPHY: So having you at home during the pandemic, it was tough.
KAREN ROGERS: Different.
DAVID MURPHY: It was different.
KAREN ROGERS: I cried. Well, it was just a frightening time, obviously. But because we know each other so well, I mean, it's still kind of seamless, I thought.
DAVID MURPHY: I think so. Yeah. I mean, we were able to bridge that space just with our interaction.
KAREN ROGERS: It makes it all the more enjoyable when we come back together. Makes you appreciate things. I'm kind of at that point where I'm really appreciating what we have so much, how grateful we are for it, and for the viewers who tune in all these 17 years, Mr. Murph.
DAVID MURPHY: Well, I'll say it again. I am so lucky that I got put together with a partner who is as easy to work with and is fun and has such a great personality and also, is just smart. And I'll say it again, you've made me better all these years by just having my back.
KAREN ROGERS: Love you, Davie. Right back at you. This is when I would hug you and tackle you. I mean, I'm still not allowed, darn it.
DAVID MURPHY: Elbows maybe. There you go. There we go.
KAREN ROGERS: Cheers.
DAVID MURPHY: Cheers.
CECILY TYNAN: I'm so impressed how much energy they have so early in the morning. Well, time for another viewer question. This is from Jerry in Philadelphia. This is a great question. "What is it about rain? Why can we smell it, and where does that distinct aroma come from?" What you're smelling it's actually not rain. It's an earthy aroma called petrichor.
Petrichor is released when raindrops fall on dry ground. What happens, actinobacteria is on the ground that's a compound that decomposes decaying material. When that rain hits the ground, it kind of bursts up some of the aerosols, the byproducts are released into the air, and that's why you can smell that earthy aroma, especially after it's been very dry and especially when we have light rain. When we have very heavy rain, those aerosols are actually suppressed very close to the ground, and hopefully, we'll get some rain soon because we desperately need it.
We'll have a lot more coming up after the break. Stay with us.
ADAM JOSEPH: As you know, Cecily, we have a very diverse region to forecast for. On any given day, the temperature can differ by 10 to as much as 20 degrees from where we are in Philadelphia to the shore or even the Poconos.
CECILY TYNAN: Chris Sowers explains how where you live plays a major role in what you see happening in your sky.
CHRIS SOWERS: Our viewing area is a very challenging place to forecast and has a wide range of weather, largely because of the topography and its proximity to the ocean. I'm here outside of our 6 ABC studio, standing on the fall line. The fall line is a term that we use to describe where the coastal plain meets the Piedmont. In our area, that ends up being the I-95 corridor, and it's why so many times we reference this area as the dividing line between snow to the northwest and rain to the southeast.
On the coastal plane, the soil is sandy and the terrain, relatively flat, but once you hit the Piedmont, you start to quickly climb in elevation, with large rolling hills and mountains. In the winter, relatively mild air off the ocean can quickly move over the coastal plain, limiting the amount of snowfall. But the higher elevations of the Piedmont are able to stop that flow of mild air dead in its tracks and keep those regions colder. As a matter of fact, temperatures actually decrease as you head up in elevation.
For example, on a sunny day, you lose just over 5 degrees for every 1,000 feet in elevation that you go up. This is why it's typically around 10 degrees colder in the Poconos than here in Philadelphia. Seasonal snowfall ranges from just over a foot along the Jersey shore to over 4 feet in the Poconos.
Flooding is another big challenge. At the Jersey shore, it's a constant battle to keep sand on our beaches. The angry tides of a nor'easter can eat away entire sand dunes, leaving the beaches vulnerable. The summer months usually give us a chance to replenish those losses, but the recent increase in hurricane activity has become a growing concern.
Inland flooding along streams and creeks is also worrisome, thanks to our warming climate. Warm air can hold much more moisture than cold air, leading to heavier downpours. This, combined with an increased desire to build along floodplains, could spell big problems in the future, as average rainfall increases. In our newly-released 30-year averages, the yearly rainfall in Philadelphia has increased by 2.5 inches. Just last year alone, there were a combined 139 flash flood and flood warnings in our area, making it one of the most active in the entire country.
CECILY TYNAN: Our next viewer question comes from David in Havertown, Pennsylvania. He wants to know, "Weather systems in the US move from west to east, but tropical systems move from east to west. Please explain." This is because the way the planet circulates. It's called the Coriolis force.
What happens at our latitude, the prevailing winds are from the west, the westerlies, and that's why we track storm systems from the west and east. However, when you get closer to the equator, the prevailing wind is from the east to the west. These are called trade winds. So that's why when we have tropical systems, we can track them typically off the coast of Africa, moving to the west. And once they get closer to our latitude, they typically start to make that turn back off to the east once they're picked up by the westerlies. Great question.
We'll be back with more right after this.
We are entering the summer season, and that means heat, humidity, storms, tornadoes, and tropical systems. Each year brings unique challenges, but the overall outlook from year to year for the mid-Atlantic doesn't change dramatically. Adam Joseph explains.
ADAM JOSEPH: Last summer was a doozy. It began active, and it never eased. Each month was above normal, with July tying as the third warmest on record, with a blistering 21 days in the 90s. Early summer brought on fast-moving storms with tornadoes, straight-line wind damage followed by extreme heat, humidity, and three tropical storms with a surplus of rainfall mid to late summer totaling nearly 6 inches above normal.
Now, fast forward to this summer. It looks like an active June and early July, with high pressure that's going to be set up in the desert Southwest. This is going to steer storms from the Great Lakes along that jet stream, pushing them right across our region in the mid-Atlantic. In fact, the risk for severe weather, including tornadoes, will be higher than normal for the start of the season. For temperatures, we will set close to normal due to this active pattern with higher-than-average rainfall, and as we progress through mid to late summer, that high pressure is going to start to push more into the northern plains, working to the north and east.
This will shift that storm track northeastward up into New England. This will make for a drier pattern for us. But the tropics could be the wild card. Temperatures will be far less intense than last summer, but will still run slightly above normal.
Now, to the tropics. The beginning of the season doesn't look all that bad because we're going to have a neutral pattern, not an El Niño or a La Niña, but later in the summer, La Niña is going to start to form. That is below average water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific. What that does for the Atlantic and the Caribbean is it will develop a weak wind shear environment in the upper atmosphere.
This will aid in the development of tropical systems. They're going to be easier to form and gain strength. So a far more favorable atmosphere late summer into the fall, as these storms progress from the waves off of Africa towards the lower 48. So it gives us a greater risk of rain and wind that will associate with them.
So this summer can be summed up in this way. It's going to begin stormy wet with an above normal risk for tornadoes into early July. No drought is expected. A much quieter second half of the summer will be experienced, and that active pattern will begin to break down. We will need to watch for increased tropical storm activity late summer with La Niña returning, and a near typical summer with temperatures running just slightly above normal. No long, intense hot spells like last July, and roughly, 30 90-degree days matching the yearly normal summer. Last year, we had 36, so we'll take that minus 6 from last year, but this year, they should be more spread out.
CECILY TYNAN: And if you miss anything we shared with you today or you want to watch it again, not to worry. We're streaming our "Weather Town Hall" on our many streaming platforms.
ADAM JOSEPH: You can go to Roku, Apple TV, and more to see our special and also bonus coverage, yeah, including answering more of your questions. We want to thank you so much for joining us, and we hope you learned a little bit more of how we do our jobs. We know how important the forecast is to you, and we always do our very best to get it right.
CECILY TYNAN: Whether it's a sunny day or a massive storm, we're always here. "Action News" has you covered. Have a great night, and thanks for watching.