While it's been fairly pleasant around here this spring, summer-like weather has already been well under way in many other parts of the nation.
Denver hit 100 degrees on June 11 -- the earliest 100 degree on record there... by three days! Atlanta hit their inaugural 90 this week, Minneapolis hit 98 in May, parts of Oklahoma are at 100, Livermore, California has already notched 107, Phoenix has been over 108 for a week, and Death Valley has already been over 120!
Could that be the building theme of the upcoming summer? Could the Northwest be the refuge from another searing hot summer across the rest of the United States?
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center seems to give decent odds that it will be the case...
Sure, we're generally among the cooler summers nationwide anyway due to our marine climate and proximity to the cool Pacific Ocean waters. But this year, we might look extra enticing.
Here is the CPC's 90-day temperature forecast map, spanning July through September. It shows just about the entire U.S. painted with a greater than average change of having a warmer than normal summer.
That is, except for the sliver of the nation we call home...and coastal Northern California.
The "EC" stands for "Equal Chances" which means their climate forecast models aren't picking up any signal that would weigh our summer warmer or cooler than normal, whereas the darker browns signal that there are strong signs those areas are in for a hotter than normal summer. So technically, we could still have a hotter than normal summer too, there just aren't any signs pointing to it now like there are elsewhere. And of course, it could mean we end up with a relatively chilly summer too.
If you're curious about rainfall, ironically it's almost inverted:
So likely a normal, but dry summer on tap for us if the map is correct? I think we'll take it. And there's plenty of room at the inn for sweltering Americans to come take a heat break out here if needed :)
What about winter? It's looking neutral again
If you're one who wants to skip summer and start thinking about winter already, we are getting our first inklings of at least how El Nino or La Nina is shaping up. The verdict: it's neither.
Long range models have been steadily adamant that current neutral conditions (where ocean temperatures in the south-central Pacific are within a 1/2 degree of normal baseline readings) are going to remain so through the winter.
Overall, the NCEP is giving a near 50 percent chance of a neutral winter, a 35 percent chance of a cooling La Nina winter and just a 15 percent chance of a boring El Nino winter.
Whereas El Nino winters tend to be mild and tame (lame?) and La Nina tend to be cool and rainy and occasionally snowy, Neutral winters tend to run the gamut, with stretches of dry weather mixed in with periods of stormy weather. Most of the Northwest's greatest storms, be it rain storms, wind storms or snow storms, have come in neutral winters. It's just that those storms tend to be mixed in with extended calm periods too.
This past winter was shaping up to be El Nino, but then El Nino unexpectedly fizzled toward the fall to where we technically had a neutral winter. But I think the winter, especially January-March, ended up with a hint of El Nino as they were drier than normal and among the more boring in recent memory. I suspect this winter will be more active since we won't have had any El Nino momentum to gum things up.
And I suspect some Northwesterners will look to return the favor and take refuge in warmer climates...