The Outlook: Week should warm up gradually

“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.” John Steinbeck (“The Winter of Our Discontent”) By Clarence Fanto

Surprisingly chilly for the first day of June. After Monday’s predicted pre-dawn low of 40 or even upper 30s (not far above the record of 33 at Pittsfield Municipal Airport set in 2001), gradual recovery to seasonal norms of 50 to 72 is in the offing this week, with clear skies, highs near 80 by Friday and Saturday and humidity remaining low. Unlike surrounding areas, Berkshire County saw virtually no rainfall on Friday and Saturday, and the only significant chance of showers this week (as of now) is expected Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning.

But it’s only a 50-50 bet and light amounts are unlikely to be beneficial. Persistent clouds should give way to sunny skies by Thursday. Article Continues After

Closing the books on May, it was an abnormally dry month, with only 1.6 inches of rain, less than half of the long-term average. For the year so far, precipitation is 20 percent below normal.

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With several upstate New York counties already in a drought watch, the Berkshires could be heading that way, with no significant moisture expected for the next two weeks and temperatures trending above normal for the second week of the month, starting next Sunday. Last Friday was the 25th anniversary of the destructive Great Barrington tornado that struck with minimal warning on Memorial Day weekend of 1995.

The National Weather Service scored it a “4” on the 5-point scale of damaging twisters, with three deaths, 24 injuries and an estimated £25 million in damage, and the greatest impact in the vicinity of the fairgrounds on Route 7. A nearby nursing home lost its roof and buildings at the fairgrounds were destroyed, along with a gas station across the highway. Many roads were blocked for more than 24 hours by numerous fallen trees.

Article Continues After The path of destruction extended more than 50 miles from Hudson, N.Y., over the Taconic State Parkway, all the way east to Otis and Sandisfield. It rivaled the Aug.

28, 1973, tornado that hit the Berkshire Truck Plaza in West Stockbridge, killing four people and injuring 40, while leveling the State Line Diner. It’s now the site of a massive solar farm. Back to the future, the week ahead looks tranquil, not only locally but also in most of the nation.

Heat will be confined to the Rockies and Plains, and heavy rainfall is likely only in the mid-Mississippi and Ohio Valleys toward next weekend. However, with two named storms (Arthur and Bertha) already having jumped the line as the hurricane season officially begins on Monday, forecasters will be eyeing another potential system developing in the Gulf of Mexico by next weekend. The Outlook is today’s look ahead at the week’s weather, its impact on the Berkshires and beyond.

Clarence Fanto can be reached at

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