By Geri Gibbons, Wilkes-Barre Times Leader
WILKES-BARRE — Sitting on Public Square on a recent afternoon, William Jones said he likes to eat his lunch there, enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures.
A Wilkes-Barre resident and a recent transplant from the Pittsburgh area whose work brought him to Northeastern Pennsylvania, Jones said he is also looking forward to the increasingly chilly temperatures of autumn, the bright colors of the leaves and the chance to break out his sweaters.
According to meteorologist Tom Clark, of WNEP-TV, plummeting temperatures predicted for the weekend might afford Jones that opportunity, but not for long.
Thursday is the first day of autumn. The National Weather Service predicts Thursday and Friday to have highs in the mid-80s, before daytime temperatures begin to fall as Saturday is expected to bring a high of 71, Sunday a high of only 64 and Monday a high of 68.
Nighttime lows on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights will range between 43 to 50 degrees.
Still, Clark said, it is more than likely hot days are not over yet.
“It’s quite common for us to have very warm days in September and even in October,” said Clark.
He referred to the meteorologic concept of “persistence,” which relies upon present weather conditions to forecast future weather.
“Temperatures have been above normal this year,” said Clark, “and the odds favor a warmer upcoming winter.”
Clark said he hears from viewers that they are “sick and tired of the heat and humidity.”
“Last Christmas, it was 60 degrees,” he said. “A lot of people felt like it wasn’t really Christmas.”
Still, Jones is ready for the weather, whatever it might be.
“When you live in Pennsylvania, you’re accustomed to the seasons,” he said. “That’s Pennsylvania.”
Clark pointed out that weather patterns tend to be cyclical, with weather during the 1960s and 1990s having been especially cold.
He said the current summer season — June, July and August — has been among the warmest on record.
“Every month this year, except April, has been warmer than normal,” he said.
Clark said summer rainfall has also been lower than normal.
“Warm temperatures and drier conditions often go together,” he said.
He also believes global warming is a factor.
“The earth is getting measurably warmer,” he said. “But that could change in the long term.”
Rah Trollinger, of Wilkes-Barre, was spending time at Kirby Park with friends Tuesday because it was a beautiful day.
He likes the warm days accompanied by chilly mornings, a hallmark of the fall season.
Clark warned that, although the upcoming winter is expected by many to be marked by warmer than normal temperatures, that does not necessarily mean less snow.
“It could be warmer than normal, and we could still get a lot of snow,” he said.
For now, residents seem to be enjoying the warm weather downtown and in Kirby Park where people take time for long walks or to sit and talk to each other under sunny skies without the need for sweatshirts and jackets.