(WSYR-TV, Syracuse) Ah Summer. Right after the last snowflake flies, the most asked question in the weather office is "What kind of summer are we going to have?" We will be the first to caution that any type of outlook beyond a couple days is really a stab in the dark. Especially, forecasts of a month or more can be sketchy. Why do we do it? It is interesting to try to outguess Mother Nature. People want to have an idea of what to expect. They really don't like to not have control of a situation. With that, we present the outlook for the next couple of months.
Probably the most remarkable weather event of the past several months is the lack of snow here in central New York. The obvious retort to the is that there must be some sort of "payment" most likely in terms of a damp and cool summer. Actually, looking at the summers that followed the top 10 least snowy winters in Syracuse, the majority of them were warmer than average. Some were exceptionally hot with more than the average (8) of 90 degree days. While others were warmer than normal, the number of 90 degree days was quite low.
The global circulation pattern (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) is changing ever so slightly. This is happening because the La Nina, colder than average oceanic temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, is giving way to El Nino, or warmer conditions. Basically, this means that pockets of abnormally cold or warm air are changing positions in the ocean, and due to the coupling of the air and sea, the jet stream is shifting. This means that the flow pattern that gave us the mild winter and spring is changing.
This change doesn't happen overnight. There have been areas of abnormally hot air that have developed in recent weeks. We've already four 90 degree days this year, halfway to our average of 8. There is torrid heat in place in the southwestern US and Rockies leading to drought and wildfires. Tongues of that heat clip us and it gets hot for a bit, but it doesn't stick around. We believe that's a key to our summer outlook.
Over the past year, longer global climate models have done a better job in their forecasts. Using those tools as guidance, they are indicating that the abnormally warm air that comprised last winter, will have a lesser intensity through the summer. There's still some indication of above normal temperatures, but it looks as though the magnitude of the warmth would be a bit lower.
The NewsChannel 9 Storm Team is calling for temperatures to run slightly above normal. Precipitation in the summer is really dictated by thunderstorms and their feast or famine pattern of rainfall, so it's futile to give a forecast. Given all that was explained above, we feel that it will be tough to have prolonged periods of big time heat. Sure, a day, or two, or three of 90 degree weather can be expected, but that type of heat most likely won't stick around for long. It will likely be replaced by cooler temperatures. Temperatures which could very well average below normal for a spell. These ups and downs in temperature will continue through July and August, leading to overall temperatures that end up slightly above normal.