Elwell: What kind of summer can we expect?


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Spring is now in full force across the Miami Valley with many trees and plants running well ahead of schedule in growth.

But then, spring seemed to get started by late February this year. Temperatures have been above normal every month so far this year. March was the coolest month compared to average, although still, temperatures ran about a degree above normal overall. April will go down in the record books with temperatures averaging over 6 degrees above normal.

With such a mild winter and now spring, you may be wondering what type of summer may be on the way. It wouldn’t be a far stretch to believe that warmer than average temperatures will likely continue and indeed, the forecast bares that out. The latest long-range outlook shows over a 40 percent likelihood of temperatures staying above average through the months of June, July, August and September.

The summer of 2016 was warmer than normal across the Miami Valley with temperatures through the summer running about 4 degrees above average. While most indicators including jet stream pattern, ocean water temperatures, and other model guidance indicate this summer will also be warm, just how warm it gets will depend on how much precipitation falls over the coming weeks.

How hot it gets is dramatically impacted by soil moisture content. The good news for those hoping that our summer won’t be a scorcher is the fact that we are currently running above average on precipitation for the year. We had seen the northern Miami Valley slip into moderate drought conditions earlier in April but the rain over the weekend has eased concerns. Of course, these conditions can change quickly should we experience a prolonged period without rainfall.

The long-range outlook for precipitation shows equal chances of receiving above or below average rainfall this summer. It will be important to see how that plays out in the coming weeks. If the weather pattern gets quiet over the next few weeks, then the chances of a hot summer will increase. Dry soil will heat faster than soil that has moisture. Thus, the dryer we get, the hotter we will likely be.

As we head toward fall, meteorologists will once again be looking to see if El Nino will make a big return. The term El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to a periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific. Most forecasters believe there is a good chance this weather pattern will return this fall and for the coming winter. I’ll wait for a little more data before writing about what this means for the winter weather outlook. Let’s not rush summer yet!

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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