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90-plus summer days at 12 and counting

| Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

Ninety is a number that was scorchingly familiar this summer in the Alle-Kiski Valley.

And it doesn't appear 90 degrees will be a stranger any time soon.

Monday marked the 12th day this year the high temperature in the Pittsburgh region hit 90 degrees, according to Tom Green, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The 13th, 14th and 15th days at 90 degrees are forecast for today, Wednesday and Thursday.

Green said Western Pennsylvania usually gets about eight 90-plus days a year.

As of Wednesday, he said the National Weather Service considered this summer the ninth warmest on record.

As of Monday, the monthly average temperature for August was 74.3 degrees, about 3 degrees above normal. June and July each ran a couple degrees above normal, as well.

But even as the region sweated it out, this summer was no sweat — meteorologically speaking.

"It wasn't anything weather-breaking," Green said.

No single day broke a record for the highest temperature on that date.

The highest summer temperature ever recorded in Pittsburgh was 103 degrees, reached three times in August or July since 1881.

The hottest temperature so far this year was 93 degrees, reached several times over the last two months.

Even the total number of days at or above 90 degrees this year wasn't terribly notable when compared to the summer of 1988, when the region reached at least 90 degrees 38 times.

That year also holds the record for the longest heat wave, with 13 consecutive days topping 90 degrees, from July 4 to 16. The third-longest heat wave occurred a month later, from Aug. 8 to 17.

The longest run at 90 degrees this summer was four days, from July 5 through 8.

"So, no huge heat wave," Green said. "It wasn't the warmest summer on record."

And although the region received about 2.6 less inches of rain than usual over the last two months, we're far from drought levels, Green said. The region is about 1.4 inches below average for the year.

"It's not like we're drastically behind normal," he said.

Looking ahead to the fall, Green said climatologists predicted a chance that temperatures will continue to be above normal.

That may not be the forecast people wishing for cool fall weather want to hear. However, they can take heart that they live on the western side of Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia has reached 90 degrees 46 times this summer, including twice in May and two days in July that topped 100 degrees.

Additional Information:

Air quality a concern today

State air-pollution monitors declared an Air Quality Action Day today in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Hot air, high pressure and little wind will force ozone levels into the unhealthy range, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Anyone who is sensitive to air quality • particularly children, senior citizens and people with chronic illnesses or who work outdoors • should avoid going outside.

Additionally, people should limit activities during the day that can contribute to ozone and pollution accumulation, including using major appliances, cutting grass, driving and pumping gas.

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