Go West, young man -- it's cool

If you're looking for relief from the record-setting US heat wave, the place to go is the Pacific Northwest. Otherwise, the 30-day outlook is for "more of the same, warm eastward from the Rockies," says Don Gilman, who heads the long- range forecasting unit of the US National Weather Service.

Firming up their forecast July 14, Dr. Gilman and his colleagues expect the following general temperature patterns:

* Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and adjacent parts of Nevada should be cooler than normal or normal.

* The extreme Southwest should be hot.

* East of the Rockies, higher than normal temperatures should prevail generally, except in northern New York State and New England, where temperatures should be more or less normal.

This is essentially a "stand pat" forecast. The meteorologists found little to indicate any substantial change in the overall weather pattern affecting the United States. This is characterized partly by a ridge of high pressure over the Pacific whose position is crucial in making the forecast.

In the atmosphere, where everything is connected to everything else, the Pacific ridge is part of a large-scale flow pattern which brings hot, dry weather east of the Rockies. Dr. Gilman says he expects the Pacific ridge to edge eastward a little, but not enough to change US weather significantly. However, he adds, he is uncertain just how the ridge might move. It could come eastward enough to force the heat wave into the Northeast.

In making this forecast, Dr. Gilman and his associates, to use meteorological jargon, are "going with persistence" -- meaning that when there is no sign of change more of the same can expected. "There are times," Dr. Gilman says, "when your basic decision is whether or not you stick with a pattern and say it's stable. This one looks stable. We really do not have too much in the way of options to chose from."

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