Is It Going to Be A Hot Summer?

Most years I don’t get many questions/emails along the lines of “what will the summer will be like?”.  For sure each summer’s approaching weather doesn’t generate the interest I see as we approach each winter.  But this year I’ve had a few people ask, so I took a look.  Even I was a bit surprised by the result.

Let’s jump into the details…it appears that for the first time in 5 years an El Nino is developing in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.  In fact NOAA is pegging that chance at 70-75% by late summer or early fall


I think we all know that IN GENERAL when we have that warming of the tropical waters we tend to see the jet stream develop much farther south in the wintertime.  California tends to have stormy/wet winters and we tend to be a bit milder and definitely drier than normal in those winters.  But what about summer?

I went back and looked up the last 10 episodes in which an El Nino was developing over the summer and compared it with our summer weather that year.  The years are 1977, 1982, 1986, 1991, 1994, 1997, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009.  Some of those were weak El Ninos, two were strong, and a few were moderate.  Then I ran those years through a nifty tool on the NCDC website.  You can plot temperature/precipitation anomalies for any year or group of years.

First, all 10 years showing the summer season temperature departure, that’s June, July, August:


Just July-August, the real summer season here:


And just June:


They are all basically the same.

Summers with a developing El Nino have a strong tendency to be warmer than average in the Western USA, including our area

How about 90 degree and 80 degree days?  Both are tallied below.  Blue is below average and Red is above  In this case Portland’s 90 degree average is 10-13 (we average more now than we used to) .

1977  14  43
1982  14  50
1986  17  58
1991  16  67
1994  13  75
1997   9  57
2002  12  55
2004  12  64
2006  21  65
2009  24  64

Same thing with some real hot summers in there.  But notice a significant minority did not see extreme heat.  So an El Nino summer does not guarantee an unusually high number of hot days.

Most interesting to me is that none of the last 10 El Nino summers have been cooler than average; none were “chilly”.

The September maps were a bit different…notice just about average, the real warm signature disappears after Labor Day:


And the rain anomaly shows a bit wetter than average once we get into September:


There are other things we can look at, not just El Nino stats from the past.  For example, here is the Climate Forecast Model (CFS) temperature anomaly forecast for June-August.  It has been very consistent for more than a month showing above average temps this summer in the western USA:


Again, this is no indication of a scorching hot summer.  That will depend on whether we get several episodes of strong upper level ridging sitting directly overhead which kills the mild onshore flow.

Sea surface temperatures are running well above average in the northeast Pacific off our coastline too, note the warm anomalies on the bottom of the graphics below


the warm pool has been there since at least early winter, probably leading to several episodes of ridging to our west.  This isn’t likely to change through the summer.

To sum it up…

I’d say the odds are tilted away from a cooler than average summer west of the Cascades.  More likely we’ll see a normal to above average summer; good news if you have trouble growing tomatoes or cantaloupes.  Bad news if you don’t have air conditioning; hopefully when it does get hot it’ll be a dry heat.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

54 Responses to Is It Going to Be A Hot Summer?

  1. Karl Bonner says:

    Mark do you have the link where I can generate my own monthly temperature anomalies for a given set of analog years? I’d like to find out what factors determine temperature trends in spring and fall, in particular…

  2. schmit44 says:

    5/25/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:86 at DW9659 Richland(2379 ft) & Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)
    Low: 59 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft) & DW9659 Richland(2379 ft) & JUNIPR(359 ft)

    High:47 at MT. HOWARD(7910 ft)
    Low: 29 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 45 degrees
    FOSTER FLAT (80/35 ) (5000 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.50″ at SOUTH FORK BULL(2630ft)
    0.31″ at EW1765 Mount Hoo(1542ft)
    0.30″ at SADDLE MOUNTAIN(3250ft)
    0.26″ at TILLAMOOK(11ft)
    0.21″ at MILLER(1031ft)

  3. runrain says:

    Already 80 deg here at 7:30am. Upper 90’s today and mid-100’s by Tues. Nice warm but rocky run thru the desert this morning but a wary eye out for rattlers! Lots of good places for them to hang out. Back to refreshing Portland soon!

  4. High Desert Mat says:

    Quick question Mark, since Mt. Hood is roughly 11,275 feet at the summit, and you have the freezing level at 9,000 feet, how come you have the summit temp at 33 degrees? Inquiring minds wanna know.

  5. schmit44 says:

    5/24/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:84 at DW5789 Eagle Poi(1463 ft) & Medford Viaduct(1360 ft) & EW4806 Grants Pa(942 ft) & ILLINOIS VALLEY(1389 ft)
    Low: 62 at HEPP(311 ft)

    High:46 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 27 at DIMLKE (4726 ft ) & KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 46 degrees
    CABIN LAKE (75/29 ) (4560 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.17″ at K7ZQU-7 Santiam(4790ft)
    0.13″ at LOG CREEK(2800ft)
    0.11″ at EW1765 Mount Hoo(1542ft)

  6. runrain says:

    Haven’t seen anything under clear skies here in Phoenix. I’m north of the city limits too. 70 deg, tho, at 4am. Dawn breaks at 4:30 this time of year. Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time.

  7. High Desert Mat says:

    Pretty clear here in Redmond. Haven’t seen one yet but I’m hoping for a food display tonight. I’ll keep u guys posted. Do the same please.

  8. schmit44 says:

    5/23/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:92 at ALKALI FLAT(2495 ft) & Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)
    Low: 66 at HEPP(311 ft) & John Day River B(305 ft)

    High:51 at Lake(6184 ft) & Mount Hood Meado(6601 ft) & Timberline Lodge(7001 ft)
    Low: 33 at CRANE PRAIRIE (5500 ft ) & CRAZYMAN FLAT (6100 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 48 degrees
    RED BUTTE (84/36 ) (4460 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.83″ at EW3865 John Day(3068ft)
    0.64″ at FALL MOUNTAIN(5949ft)
    0.55″ at KEENEY TWO(5120ft)
    0.53″ at CASE(3800ft)

  9. Garron near Washington Square says:

    Talk about bad timing! I just received the boil water notification. Hope everyone already bought water for the weekend. II order freight for my store, and due to the holiday, already ordered what I could from our warehouse, and they are were running out before this water scare. Last time this happened, on a holiday weekend, we were already out at the store before our freight came in. Oh well, plenty of beer on hand at my store at least…Happy Memorial weekend…

  10. W7ENK says:

    I’m sold! Who’d down?

  11. W7ENK says:

    Cloudy all the way to Idaho, and beyond by this evening. Yet another swift kick in the balls by Mother Nature. And watch, because it’s cloudy here, the show will be spectacular. 😥

  12. snodaze says:

    Did I seriously just see a canopy over the Multnomah falls bridge on the Fox 11pm news 5/22?

    Get rid of it… The scene is of the falls, not the idiots contained within it or the human waste that would jump from it… Governments “safety” mandate has been taken to extreme for what? 13 years now?… I Puke on it!

  13. schmit44 says:

    5/22/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:92 at ILLINOIS VALLEY(1389 ft) & Celilo, East of(225 ft)
    Low: 60 at HEPP(311 ft)

    High:54 at Timberline Lodge(7001 ft)
    Low: 29 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 51 degrees
    CW5507 Camp Sher (86/35 ) (3020 ft )

  14. runrain says:

    Spending the holiday weekend in Phoenix. Cooler than normal here with highs in low 90’s. I do like how it stays warm at night unlike at home. Interesting view flying over that big fire near Flagstaff.

  15. boringlarry SE of Sandy1600 ft says:

    a rare cross post from me:
    Hey Mr. Nelsen…there’s some interest in the sky tomorrow night..whats your thoughts about “just” east of the cascade crest????

    • W7ENK says:

      Yeah, I’m curious too. I’d like to know how far out to the East side I need to drive to avoid cloud cover?!

    • Dave in SW PDX (235') says:

      I’d rather not take any chances with cloud cover in this case. I’m heading south and east in the morning, hoping to be well east of K Falls by afternoon. Forecast looks more favorable down there for clear skies overnight tomorrow. With two DSLRs, tripods, and wide angle lenses I’m hoping to capture at least a few Camelopardalids. If not, at least some nice pics of the Milky Way 🙂

    • High Desert Mat says:

      I’m in Redmond and hope the skies will be clear. I can see a few cirrus clouds now just starting to cross the mts.

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Larry, you gonna stay up till 2AM for this?

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      I do have my homemade 10″ Dobsonian that might pick up some scatter on the moon (if it occurs). But given the unique nature of the this event and the fact that this side of the mountains could be cloudy… I’ll probably wait and see…

    • boringlarry SE of Sandy1600 ft says:

      Boydo, i’m going to stay up late!!! 🙂

    • Timmy_Supercell (Klamath Falls @ 4200') says:

      It’s been overcast for hours here in Klamath Falls. It looks like you might need to approach Burns or perhaps the border to get clear skies.

      Also some storms in central Oregon have been firing off recently.

  16. schmit44 says:

    5/22/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:87 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)
    Low: 60 at HEPP(311 ft) & Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)

    High:51 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 25 at KIRK (4519 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 48 degrees
    CW5507 Camp Sher (81/33 ) (3020 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.29″ at GRASSY MOUNTAIN(4560ft)

    • Boydo3 N. Albany says:

      Funny…..ummm…I think

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Actually pretty funny Erik. I like dry humor

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Loosen up boydo.

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Here’s another good one, not appropriate for the blog so I’m not posting link but go to YouTube and type in, Best cry ever popeyes runs out of chicken. Its funny tho. Dry humor like I said.

    • W7ENK says:

      What part wasn’t funny? Was it when she says of her mother: “…she smacked me right across my face… She was a sick woman. She died young. Good. I never needed her anyway.”?

      I don’t get the problem here. That’s funny!

    • High Desert Mat says:

      Its funny to me. Some people are just too sensitive Erik. Now they’re really starting to complain about the redskins name again. I don’t get it. If they don’t like it, dont watch em. Its football for &%$#’s sake. Next they’ll probably try to change the Atlanta Braves name.

  17. PDX Weather Nut says:

    Hot summers are always very difficult here because so many places are without air conditioning. Portland simply wasn’t built for hot weather.

  18. Garron near Washington Square says:

    Thanks again Mark. Just a wonderful post, and that’s why your the best! Sorry if your warm bias is filling your inbox with hate mail right now…Just know my maters and corn have your back!

  19. MasterNate says:

    Maybe the lack of sunspots will help keep us cooler. Did you correspond solar max to these El Niño years?

    Getting ready for Friday night/early Saturday morning. I think the best viewing times are between 11 pm and 2 am. Just look for the North Star for the show, providing we have a clear night.

  20. Punxsutawney (aka Hiophil) at work elev ~280' says:

    Great work Mark!

    The question I have is what about Monsoonal moisture. 2009 had some really impressive t-storms but not much rain here in the valley.

    Looking at the Hillsboro records for those years, July-August looks pretty dry a good portion of them. Exceptions being 1977, 1982 and 2004. The last 10 days-two weeks of August 2004 were quite wet around the metro area.

  21. Paul D says:

    Hopefully all that data is completely wrong and we have a below normal summer!

  22. schmit44 says:

    5/20/2014 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:83 at JOHN DAY RIVER A( 400 ft) & Chinook(399 ft) & DW0462 Umatilla(390 ft) & Celilo, East of(225 ft)
    Low: 56 at LINCON Lincoln C(187 ft)

    High:44 at HOWARD Mt Howard(8150 ft)
    Low: 27 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 45 degrees
    CW5507 Camp Sher (75/30 ) (3020 ft )

    Heaviest Rainfall:
    0.14″ at Medford, Rogue V(1329ft)
    0.14″ at SELDOM CREEK(4875ft)
    0.12″ at Corvallis Munici(246ft)
    0.10″ at McMinnville Muni(157ft)

  23. kdi says:

    I thought last summer was the hottest in my recent memory. It wasn’t searing 104-107 stuff (speaking in Maupin terms here) but every day seemed to be between 96 and 102. Awful.

    So this summer looks hot compared to last year? Time for me to move

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      It doesn’t mean this summer will be warmer than last since we had an above average summer last year too. It might just be the same; could even be a few notches cooler.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Also, eastern Oregon and Washington were hotter relative to normal than Northwest Oregon. Portland was only a little above average.

  24. W7ENK says:

    40-45% chance of above normal temperatures for JJA at PDX. Not somethingt bet the farm on.

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