I recently realized that some of my favorite songs are about the weather. Gene Kelly’s “Singing in the Rain”, “Mr. Blue Sky” by the Electric Light Orchestra and “Dust in the Wind” by the group Kansas are all on my playlist. The ever-changing weather here in Erie County is always a topic of discussion among residents. Yet, looking over the data, we have it pretty good here. In Summer, the days are pleasant with temperatures mainly in the 70s or 80s Fahrenheit. Only a few days are over 90 degrees and we rarely, if ever, see a day over 100 degrees. In Winter, the City of Erie usually has about 41 days when the temperature never rises above freezing. In the County, it will stay colder for longer periods of time.
Fortunately, we don’t get extreme weather very often. Hurricanes never make it in from the East Coast, flooding is limited, blizzards rare and the last time a tornado hit was in 2010. I’ve read that if you wanted to travel and experience weather just like we have here, go to Yamagata Japan which is 6,337 miles away.
What about all this talk on global warming? Is it getting warmer in Erie County? For a comparative study, I’ve consulted the book “Erie A Guide to the City and County” which was written and compiled by the Erie County Unit of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1938. This Depression era publication has become my new best friend as I continue my study of Erie County history.
In 1938, the city of Erie was considered the second cloudiest city in the United States. There were 4,300 hours of sunshine out of a possible 8,764 hours. The first-place winner in that category was never identified. Today, Erie averages 2,719 hours of sun, quite a bit less. When looking for Erie on the cloudy chart today, it is not even on the list. Places in Alaska, Florida, Oregon, and Washington outrank Erie with the cloudiest city in the country is surprisingly, Pittsburgh.
The annual Erie County rainfall in 1938 was 31.65 inches. Today, we average 44 inches. Sea Grant PA, which has an office in the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, says that rainfall here has increased 10% since 1901.
Finally, I reached the temperature information in the book, a clue to potential warming. In 1938, the average yearly temperature was 48.8 degrees. Today, we average 59 degrees. That’s quite a bit warmer! I did read that 1936 was an unusually cold winter throughout the country which could affect that average though. Still, a warm Autumn, as of this writing, and lower amounts of snowfall lately makes me think things are warming up here.
I can’t quite envision palm trees growing outside here in Erie County. We’re still going to have bits of severe cold and warm at times with the average being comfortable and yes, we usually do rank #1 when it comes to annual snowfall. Overall, it’s still a wonderful place to live and I continue to wish happiness and long life for all, no matter the weather!