Weekend Weather Wows: Epic journey where it's always 70 degrees and California 'Gloomageddon' update

Welcome to our new weekly feature, "Weekend Weather Wows," where we'll go back and find the most exciting tidbits of weather you might have missed over the past week, so you'll be ready to impress at the water cooler (or virtual water cooler) come Monday.

LINCOLN, Ill. – I think I know someone who’s likely to give 0 stars on their recent travel adventure...

Welcome to our new weekly feature, "Weekend Weather Wows," where we'll go back and find the most exciting tidbits of weather you might have missed over the past week, so you'll be ready to impress at the water cooler (or virtual water cooler) come Monday.

Rex block puts curbs on runaway inflation

Usually when the National Weather Service launches its weather balloons each morning and evening, the balloons get to go on quite the journey. 

Many will sample the view up to 100,000 feet as they take a stunning tour of the heavens and the American countryside below amid the roaring upper level winds.


So we can’t fault the weather balloon launched from Lincoln, Illinois Tuesday if it felt like it's scheduled grand tour was a bit of a dud.

The NWS office said the balloon reached an altitude of 107,000 feet, yet throughout its entire journey it remained within 7 miles of the launch site.

The balloon measured wind speeds of 10 mph or less all the way up through 40,000 feet, the NWS said. To compare, the balloon launched at the same time along the northern Washington coast was carried along by wind gusts nearing 85 mph in the upper levels for what must have been a fulfilling sightseeing adventure.

The Illinois balloon’s journey was limited by a Rex block, which is when an area of strong high pressure gets locked in place north of an area of low pressure. The two work in tandem to temporarily shut down the flow of weather, leaving a stagnant pattern and in Illinois’ case – one with scant wind.

I guess it could be worse:

By the way if you ever find the remnants of a weather balloon, NOAA asks that you send it back to them or recycle it. Everything on board the balloon is harmless.

Now THIS is a sightseeing adventure

Alaska Climatologist Brian Brettschneider, whose unique weather maps are all the rage on social media, has one again devised an epic, year-long road trip across North America where the goal is to always be in a place where the average high for the date is 70 degrees. 

You can even choose your own adventure: Brettschneider devised a route that features the coasts, a second for more of an interior journey, and a hybrid option.

Or for the really adventurous, he devised a route that covers a large portion of the U.S. and western Canada into Alaska, avoiding interstates when possible.

Check out Brettschneider's blog for the specific routes outlined on the map.

Pennsylvania storm spotters given break from cloud computing

Pennsylvania made weather news this May by… not making any weather news. The state covers over 46,000 square miles yet went the entire month without receiving any severe weather reports.

The Pennsylvania State Climate Office says that is the first time the state has been blanked in May since such reports have been compiled and tracked in 2000.

And Pennsylvania is not the only blank state – Nature let 10 other states’ storm spotters have the month off. 

Also of note: No EF-3 or stronger tornadoes observed anywhere in the U.S. in May.

‘Gloomageddon’ Update: San Diego crowned national king of gloom

In last week’s weather wow's column, I highlighted how Los Angeles was trapped in "Gloomaeggedon," with a nearly two-week streak of overcast days and even out-graying the Pacific Northwest.

Turns out, San Diego was even gloomier. The surfing paradise ended up as the cloudiest city in the Lower 48 for May with 82.6% average daylight cloud cover.  And the only spot I found even cloudier was along the Arctic Sea in Alaska.


San Diego did rate cloudier than Anchorage and Juneau though and that says something when the Alaska Panhandle can boast more sunshine then, well, anyone.

Warning label check: How busy has your National Weather Service office been?

The amazing folks over at Iowa Environmental Mesonet, run by Iowa State University, have hundreds of intriguing options for weather data research.

One featured this week shows just how busy your National Weather Service office has been issuing Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Warnings in April and May relative to every other year since 2002. A rating of 1 means it’s their quietest year; a 22 rating means it’s been their busiest.

Some interesting dichotomies show up: For the Quad Cities, Iowa NWS office, it’s been their busiest year, but neighboring Lacrosse, Wisconsin’s office, it's been their third-fewest. Philadelphia? Top 5 busiest; New York City? No. 2 least-busy. Pensacola, Florida (19) vs Atlanta (1); Oklahoma City (4) vs. Dallas-Fort Worth (17), and San Diego (17) vs. Los Angeles (1) also make for some interesting contrasts.

Nebraska could use a good shop-vac

Love dichotomies? I’ve got more. This map shows the stark contrast in the Plains between a very wet May in the west and a very dry May to the east by displaying the estimated rank in precipitation over the past 133 years. A 1 rating means it was their wettest May and a 133 rating means it’s their driest.

Again, we see that rex block in play where storms were "stuck" in the western Plains and…oh my goodness, Nebraska, it’s drought and flood side-by side with the wettest and nearly driest in 133 years contained within the state borders.

New Hampshire primary result surprises pundits

The Northeast endured some record-breaking heat this week, to the point where you could have booked a flight to Arizona to cool off… at least a little.

At 3 p.m ET on Thursday, Lebanon, New Hampshire had the hottest temperature in the nation at 95 degrees. Burlington, Vermont and Willinocket, Maine were a degree behind at 94.

So if you had bet someone that the states with the hottest three temperatures in the U.S. on a June 1 afternoon would be in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, I suspect you would have collected a handsome return.

Burlington would go on to reach 96 degrees for the high, the warmest temperature the town has seen in two years and the earliest 96 degree reading on record.

Meanwhile, still 70 inches of snow at Oregon's Crater Lake!

Other Weather Wow-y Tidbits

  • Omaha, Nebraska had only 0.17 inches of rain in May – far and away their driest May, breaking the old record of 0.55 inches. They then received 0.89 inches on June 1 – the 10th wettest June 1 on record.
  • Philadelphia at 0.24 inches also had its driest May. Reading, Pennsylvania only received 0.09 inches – their second-driest reading of any month since 1858.
  • San Antonio already has as much rain so far this year: 11.84 inches, than it received in all of 2022 (their second-driest year on record.)

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