Severe Storms Moving Toward Washington Delay Flights

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued from Kentucky to the Atlantic, including Washington and Baltimore, as weather-related delays held up air traffic along the East Coast.

High winds halted planes for more than 90 minutes in Newark, New Jersey, and for about a half an hour at LaGuardia Airport in New York, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. Delays were also reported in Baltimore, Washington and Boston.

Thunderstorm-driven winds as strong as 80 miles (129 kilometers) per hour have knocked down trees and power lines and damaged buildings from Illinois to Pennsylvania as a cold front moved east, said the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. At least 140,000 Commonwealth Edison customers in the Chicago area lost electricity early today, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Severe storms between the large airline hub cities of Chicago, New York and Atlanta often disrupt air travel throughout the U.S. Such fast-moving storms, which may include tornadoes, accounted for about $8.8 billion in insured losses in the U.S. in the first six months of 2012, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

In addition to Washington and the mid-Atlantic, severe thunderstorm watches and warnings were issued for eastern Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Massachusetts, including Boston. Some of the systems were accompanied by large hail, according to the National Weather Service.

Any cool air the storms bring with them will be short-lived along the mid-Atlantic, as temperatures in Washington are expected to reach 97 the day after tomorrow, the Weather Service said.

Eastern Cooling

By next week, the East Coast from the Canadian Maritimes to North Carolina may experience more seasonal temperatures, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The East Coast sees some occasional heat bursts, especially in the short term, but mainly average seasonal to slightly above normal for the 6- to 15-day period,” Rogers said.

The East Coast may remain seasonal through most of the rest of August, while the heat and drought in the Midwest will probably continue, according to the latest long-range forecast from Weather Services International in Andover, Massachusetts.

“With cooler-than-normal temperatures expected along the East Coast in August, natural gas prices could see some late-summer price weakness, as gas inventories begin to approach last year’s record level by the end of the month,” said Chris Kostas, a senior power and gas analyst at Energy Security Analysis Inc. in Wakefield, Massachusetts, who contributed to the WSI forecast.

Midwest Drought

For the next two weeks, passing thunderstorms may bring some relief to the drought-parched Midwest. The region will probably lag behind the normal amount of rainfall, said Joel Widenor, co-founder of Commodity Weather.

Temperatures are expected to remain 5 to 8 degrees above normal throughout the region during the period, he said in a note to clients today.

The normal average temperature in New York for Aug. 1 is 78, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It’s 74 in Boston; 80 in Washington; 85 in Houston; 76 in Chicago; 80 in Atlanta; 67 in Seattle and 76 in Burbank, California.

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