Hello friends, and welcome to another edition of Cold Fronts and Field Goals! It's hard to believe that I'm going into my fourth year of forecasts and weather insights, but I'm just as excited as ever to give you the guide to the skies of Happy Valley for upcoming weeks. Besides, the return of these articles means one thing: it's college football time (wipes trickle of drool from side of chin).
Of course, the main item of conversation over the last week has been the destruction of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama as a result of Hurricane Katrina. I will talk more of Hurricane Katrina later in this article, but will stick to my usual format of talking local weekend weather first. After a week that saw one of the most powerful hurricanes ever hit the Gulf Coast, our weather the next few days will be nothing short of stellar. We're going to be blessed with some beautiful weather thanks to a very slow-moving, high-pressure system that will slowly sightsee its way across the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic states. With high pressure ruling the skies, storms will not be able to make it into the region, and we can expect nothing short of mainly sunny skies and low humidity through the entire Labor Day weekend. Your Saturday afternoon game forecast: Mostly sunny skies with an afternoon high of 78 degrees and a light wind from the northwest. Don't forget - add five to 10 degrees thanks to the bleacher factor, and you may want to take a bottle of sun block along, despite the later 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
Like most of you, I've been glued to the television sets that have shown the powerful pictures of the devastation left by Katrina, and it leaves me speechless. While a category five hurricane at times (winds in excess of 155 mph), Katrina made landfall as a strong category four. For those of you who may remember Hurricane Charley last year, that was also a category four when it made landfall near Tampa, yet the damage was minuscule compared to that of Katrina because of its incredibly compact nature. Over seven and a half inches of rain fell in New Orleans within the first 24 hours of the storm, and heavy rains followed Katrina as her remains went through Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania, and then into New England. Keep in mind too that despite the widespread damage, New Orleans was spared a bit; the eye of the hurricane was actually about 40 miles to the east, keeping the most intense winds and rain away from the city.
This hurricane season has been one of the most active on record; we had our first six named storms faster than any other time in history, and Tropical Storm Lee became the 12th named storm of the season just a few days ago. On a somewhat personal note, this is the time that I find it weird to be a meteorologist. On one hand, we who are passionate about the skies take great fascination and marvel at the shear power and strength possessed by a storm that is merely formed from the water that we drink and the air that we breathe. It's the kind of event that we meteorologists get excited about, the kind of event that got us interested in weather in the first place. On the other hand, none of us want to see any of the negatives that come with these powerful storms. It saddens me greatly that so many people lost everything they owned, including their lives and loved ones, and may not see the return of a normal lifestyle for several years; it makes me all the more appreciative of what I have today. Though the hurricane season officially ends Nov. 30, I fear that we've still got a lot of potential for more destructive storms. And that concerns me far more than how much it's going to cost to fill my truck with gas tomorrow.
On a more upbeat note, I am very happy to be back for a fourth year of forecasts and fun. I thank each of you who've read my articles and offered your comments and criticism, and I look forward to serving you over the next several months. I am optimistic about the Nittany Lions' season, especially with the defense in place, and I hope that much has been learned since last season. Before you know it, the leaves will change color and the snowflakes will fly, and maybe, just maybe, Penn State can make it back to a bowl game this season.
Go Big Blue. Beat South Florida.
We Are Penn State!
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