After simmering for six days, the atmosphere blew off some steam Wednesday and is primed to do it again Thursday.
Severe storms rolled through the region Wednesday evening, with several reports of downed trees in Montgomery County, and one near the Schuylkill Expressway and Montgomery Drive in Philadelphia.
Wind gusts at the Shore were clocked as high as 73 mph at Beach Haven, according to the National Weather Service.
The showers came at the end of yet-another sultry day in the region in a week when the overnight lows haven’t got below 74.
The temperature topped out at 94 degrees Wednesday, and might have gone higher were it not for all that humidity in the air that retarded daytime heating. All that water vapor helped to fuel the storms that came later.
“This might be the most oppressive day so far,” Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly, said Wednesday. At 4 p.m., the heat index hit 102 at Philadelphia International Airport, matching the levels of Monday and Tuesday.
Like thermal comfort, “relief” is a relative concept, and although temperatures Thursday might fall just short of 90, the humidity isn’t quite ready to give it up, and the heat index could make it back to the upper 90s.
However, O’Brien said the weather service isn’t likely to issue a heat advisory, and the City of Philadelphia likely will take down its heat emergency declaration, said Public Health Department spokesperson James Garrow.
The discomfort levels should ease some during the weekend, forecasters said, but it’s going to remain hot, with temperatures reaching 90 or better Friday through Sunday. And another vigorous return of the heat is on tap for the beginning of the workweek.
July is well on its way to becoming one of the warmest on record in Philadelphia. Through Tuesday, the monthly average temperature was 81.7 degrees officially, or 3.5 degrees above normal, with only two days producing below-normal temperatures.
This likely will be the hottest July at least since 2012, which ended a three-year run of very warm Julys.
Looking ahead, it is not a terrible idea to stay on the good side of your air-conditioning mechanic. The government’s eight- to 14-day outlook has the odds favoring continued warmth.