2015 Summer Outlook: Probably Warm, Could Be a Scorcher!

Is it going to be a scorcher this summer?  Not sure about that but…


By “Summer” I am referring to June, July, August.


1. Very little has changed since last summer…warmer than normal atmospheric conditions have prevailed now for over a year

Take a look at the past 12 months…almost every single one has been above average with 5 of those exceeding the record in Portland:


The past 30 days have seen very warm temps across the northwest quarter of the USA


The past 120 days as well, note you can click on any of these images for a larger view.


That’s because an upper-level ridge has been over or to our west/northwest for much of the past year.  It has come and gone at times, but it keeps coming back.  Some have named it the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.  Seems appropriate.

2. Sea surface temperatures in the northeast Pacific remain unusually warm…the “Blob” is still alive

Warmer than normal water off the coastline helped give us the warm temps last summer and boosted humidity levels at times.  Take a look at the current anomaly; that’s degrees above or below normal in celsius:


See the large area of “warm” water?  Compare it to last June:


The warm water doesn’t want to go away.  During most of the warm season our air flows in from the ocean, so if the water is warmer than normal temperatures will often be warmer than normal too.  Now you may notice one critical difference this year, take a look at below normal temps right along the coastline itself.  That’s due to “upwelling”.  With high pressure firmly established in the eastern Pacific much earlier this year (our nice but dry weather since early May), the gusty northerly winds along the coast allow a bit of a motion to the right as they travel down toward California due to the rotation of the earth (long story).  Cold water below “upwells” as a result.  Last June we didn’t have high pressure offshore as much so the ocean water was a bit warmer.

3. El Nino conditions are present in the equatorial Pacific

El Nino was just trying to develop last summer, it got going (just barely) through the winter, and now is firmly a “moderate” El Nino episode.  What have we seen in previous El Nino summers?  I looked at summers where the June-August ONI was 0.5 or greater (like we’ll see this year) for the past 25 years.


Then all the same type of years back to 1951


Interesting don’t you think?  Analog years suggest we will have a warmer than average summer.

4. All modeling that I’ve seen continues the unusually warm weather through summer & early fall.

This is a biggie.  Our numerical simulations of the next two weeks (through the end of June) are generally showing warmer than normal temperatures most of that time.  In fact there are strong indications that we may have a hot spell somewhere in the last 10 days of June.  Note the ECMWF ensemble chart shows 5,000′ temperatures well above normal through most of the period.  Normal is the green line.  There are two brief cool periods (near normal) this Friday and again early next week.


The weekly maps I posted yesterday from the same ECMWF (EURO) model showed the warm pattern continuing the next 30 days.  The CFS model forecasts above normal temps along the West Coast too…this is an average through the end of July:


I’ve found the CFS really likes to forecast above normal temps for our area, although I’ve only been watching it closely for about two years and most of that time it really has ended up warm!  So maybe it actually knows what it’s talking about more often than I think.

Going farther out in time, here is the latest CFS forecast for July surface temperature anomaly


and August


I’ve seen one other model…the JAMSTEC, and it forecasts above normal temps for us as well.

5.  Most forecasts I have seen are similar.

What are others saying?  The NWS agrees with a warm forecast.  The June-August forecast temps:


I’m not allowed to post it so I won’t, but WeatherBell is forecasting a very warm Northwest too…quite similar to the NWS.

A lot of you may remember Pete Parsons from his TV days at KGW & KOIN.  He’s a friend and forecasts for Oregon Department of Forestry/Agriculture.  He’s going the other way in his public forecast, expecting a cooler than average summer.  You can find the full forecast here:  http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/programs/NaturalResources/Pages/Weather.aspx


So there you have it…I have a gut feeling we could be in for a scorcher this year.  Although if the patterns set up right it IS possible to have a record warm summer, but not get extreme heat (100+).  Remember last year we didn’t hit 100 in Portland even though it was our warmest or 2nd warmest on record!  We didn’t have any strong thermal troughs to turn the wind easterly and push us up into the 102-106 range like in 2009.  Let’s hope we don’t see that again!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

80 Responses to 2015 Summer Outlook: Probably Warm, Could Be a Scorcher!

  1. big weather numbers
    junkies getting summer fix
    better check beer stock

  2. Pastaboy says:

    Heat. Wave. Dude.

  3. WEATHERDAN says:

    Amazing how many sources talk of an impending heat wave later next week. While 107-112 would be historic and I won’t jump on that bandwagon just yet it has gotten quite hot in June before. In 1992 Salem hit 105. In 1982 we hit 102. It has also hit the century mark before July in 1966, 1969, and 1983. What this heatwave probably will do however is give us another all time record hot month. It also looks like some convective activity is possible as well. So it is likely we could have humid days and very warm nights. With the exception of 2010 and 2011 our Summers have been warming consistently since the early 1990,s. Now we have these very warm patches of water off the West coast of North America that are according to NBC news not associated with the building El Nino. Sounds like something is going on with our climate. What it is exactly and what is behind it I will leave to the experts in that field. In the meantime it should hit about 85 today with just about perfect weather. In the meantime I hope all of you have a good day and enjoy the sunshine. Peace.

  4. A tale of two models this morning…..

    12z GFS Operational has the core of the heat/death ridge centered a bit further southeast of us, so only 80’s and maybe a few 90s here and there. I’m fine with that personally. 12z GFS Ensembles also is tempered a bit with max at +18c and quite a spread per usual after day 8 with many members around +20c. With that hot of an air mass this close to us we have to keep a close eye on this to see if we just end up with very warm conditions or a broiling heat wave.

    12z ECMWF however is the hottest run we’ve ever seen, and that’s putting it lightly. 850mb temps peak at a historic +30c to +31c over the Willamette Valley/PDX. With a thermal trough/offshore flow there is potential 107-112 degrees. 500mb heights 595dam maybe even 600dam possibly.

  5. DavidJ says:

    ECMWF Model would literally give us all time record highs accross the regions and NO I am not joking! Temps would get into the 110s+


  6. Boring Oregon says:

    Meanwhile in Newport they’re only getting up to 58f today.

  7. runrain says:

    Death Valley forecast for today: 119 degrees. Saturday is forecast to hit 126! This is nearing all time records. And again, not quite summer yet. If those folks seek some relief, they can head to Phoenix. Only 115 forecast for today, cooling down to 109 by early next week.

    I’m keeping track of the forecast for Mt. Washington, NH for my drive up there in a couple weeks. Current forecast is for a high of 53 degrees with winds sustained 60 mph gusting to 85. I can put all my Vista House training to use!

  8. steve says:

    Hey Mark has global warming finally arrived?

  9. 00z ECMWF tonight is in full agreement with the GFS with wanting to give the Willamette Valley a legit heatwave just after day 8. 850mb temps soar to +26c to +28c!

  10. schmit44 says:

    6/17/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:97 at ALKALI FLAT(2495 ft) & LAKE OWHEE AND O(2400 ft) & Ontario Municipa(2188 ft)
    Low: 69 at ECHO(683 ft) & Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft)

    High:53 at Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 27 at KIRK (4519 ft ) & DIMLKE (4726 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 54 degrees
    DIMLKE (81/27 ) (4726 ft )

  11. schmit44 says:

    Speaking of “scorcher”, check out the 00z operational GFS that just came out with temps rising above 100° end of June

    • MasterNate says:

      That’s funny, only 10 days out. Pretty sure I have seen this before. Oh ya, just this last winter, and the winter before that, and the winter before that, and …….

    • W7ENK says:

      90, 95, 101, 104… with precip?

      Oh, the humidity!!! 😯

    • runrain says:

      It’s the apocalypse! Massive heat, followed by massive thunderstorms, scattered tornadoes, softball sized hail, 80 mph outflow gusts, torrential rain, all followed by another massive heat wave with temps of 110!!!

    • Timmy Supercell (Klamath Falls, OR) says:

      runrain speaks my language!! lol

      This looked like a run from somewhere in NE Oregon, perhaps Pendleton, Hermiston, or even Yakima, WA. 😉

    • Garron near Washington square says:

      Lows in the 70’s would just be melted icing on the cake! Lows higher than our average highs, and humid.

  12. jimbo says:

    What a sunset!

  13. Pastaboy says:

    Yup, kool aid time.

  14. JERAT416 says:

    I guess we don’t need to wait until July 5th for Summer……

  15. Boring Oregon says:

    If you think it rains a lot in Oregon, you’ll be surprised to see this…

  16. I’m slightly younger than “Weatherdan” so my memories of summers go back as far as 1965. I can certainly recall a lot of cool cloudy summers as well… The ’70’s and 80’s were largely disappointing in my area- seemed like it would take the better part of July before the season got going, and then in the second half of August, the rains would return. So I like the warmer sunnier summers we get now, though I am hoping for some showers soon.

  17. WEATHERDAN says:

    80 at 3:30 PM at SLE. I really love the hot weather. I have lived here all of my life (61 years) and used to see plenty of cool wet Summers. 1962-1965 were 4 cool and wet Summers in a row. So bring on the heat. Every Winter a lot of posters on this blog hope for an “epic” Winter. Well I am hoping for an epic Summer. Of course Winter or Summer none of us make the weather. We can only wish for cold or hot. So please don’t blame me for the hot weather. Remember only 18 months ago the valley had lows of -10 and 18 inches of snow. We can all hope for our favorite weather but we get what we get. In the meantime it seems like a nice day for a walk in the park. Peace.

  18. tygrrlilley says:

    My very first visit to the PNW was in August of 2009. I remember being incredibly disappointed to be experiencing San Fernando Valley temps, especially since part of my desire to relocate was due to the weather being a lot cooler up here than SoCal. Needless to say, I’m really hoping we don’t have a repeat of 2009 and that Pete Parsons’ forecast prevails. (Hey, a girl can dream, right? Haha!)

    • Joshua says:

      I lived in So Cal for 30 years before moving here in 2008. My impression of the PNW (having never visited) was that it was always green, rarely sunny, cool to moderate temps year round, and rained a lot. Granted, I wasn’t really into weather then, so I never researched anything. What I have come to find out is that summers are bone dry and hot here. There are endless sunny and over 80 days (I don’t dislike sun). Lows at night are generally around 60. That is not cool. Everything is brown, dusty, and dry. Rivers and lakes are low. Summer seems to extend to early October and begin in June. Basically, our ”bad” weather is vastly exaggerated here. Places like Ireland, Scotland, some parts of coastal southern Alaska, etc seem to have a climate much more in line with what I was hoping for out of the PNW.

    • Paul D says:

      I’m dreaming too!! But I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a nightmare….

    • tygrrlilley says:

      We shall dream together, Paul!! 😉
      I hear ya, Joshua…except that my first Spring up here (2011) was Mary Poppins. I was thinking it would always be like that and had no idea things could change as drastically as they have. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love living here…it’s just the sun and warmth I don’t like. It’s still a far cry from most of the 40 years I lived in the SFV, but methinks Ireland and Scotland deserve a looking into…

  19. Joshua says:

    We can’t catch a break, can we? It seems miraculous to even have one day with average temps at this point (cooler than average is far too much to ask), and any precipitation would be like the Second Coming. I hope we get payback in a huge way starting next spring (I have already given up on summer, fall, and winter).

  20. Paul D says:

    Exactly what I didn’t want to hear. I’m hoping all the forecasts are wrong, but I’m betting they are right. Sigh….

  21. Nice summary – but what about the winds! What happens to them in these warmer than average conditions in the Gorge. Thousands of locals and tourists from all over the world want to know. It used to be that when Portland got over 90 it shut down winds in the Gorge. But that rule seems not to be happening lately. The SUPer Club (paddleboarding) has had to seek more sheltered places to paddle.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      This is one of the best comments in a long time. People “discovered” Hood River in the 1980s due only to the wind. I remember going there during summer vacation to stay with my grandparents around 1985 and they were complaining about all the “damn windsurfers” clogging up downtown streets. The west wind is what brought the windsurfers, and then kiteboarders. And now that’s a complaint? Better switch to Rooster Rock for SUP in the summer.

  22. I consider September part of summer as well- at least til the Equinox.

    • This is a complicated one. Yes it still can have some summer-like temps at times, but the shift to longer nights and weaker sun in September can’t be denied in the weather patterns. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as a separate season between summer and fall – kind of like February/March can feel like its own in-between season.

    • JERAT416 says:

      I could be wrong here, but my observation is that summer in Oregon seems to start on the east end of the state in early June, hitting the Valley in July, and the coast in August. I guess one way to see this is to notice blackberries are generally ripe by mid July around Portland, but at the coast that isn’t until over a month later on average. Of course this means that our “indian summers” usually don’t last for the mountains in Central and Eastern Oregon with the diurnal changes really climbing by early september.

  23. Jason Hougak says:

    Let’s just start getting our winter snow back soon. This warming trend needs to take a vacation.

  24. melissa meacham says:

    we want rain lots of it

  25. schmit44 says:

    6/16/2015 Oregon (All) Temperature Summary

    High:95 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft) & JOHN DAY RIVER A(1742 ft)
    Low: 69 at Rye Valley(I-84(2230 ft) & BLALOK(277 ft)

    High:53 at Newport(30 ft)
    Low: 28 at CROW FLAT (5172 ft )

    Largest Diurnal Change: 50 degrees
    CROW FLAT (78/28 ) (5172 ft )

  26. If the warm anomalies persist every month from now through October (could very well happen), and we don’t get any cold air in November/December, then 2015 could well go down as the warmest year on record for many stations across Oregon and Washington. I bet that The Dalles ends up above 57.0 degrees this year, maybe even 57.5!

  27. runrain says:

    Great stuff, Mark. Thanks. I don’t like the heat but that evil dark weather nerd part of me wants to see 108°.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      Me too…I’ve always wanted to see PDX beat that 107. Just like I’d like to see a -4 in the winter at PDX.

    • Garron near Washington square says:

      Why stop there? Lets just kick down the door on records and hit 110, and minus 10 this winter!

    • tygrrlilley says:

      I’m with you on the -4 in Winter, Mark, but someone needs to pop you in the mouth for even mentioning 107. lol

    • Paul D says:

      You people are TERRIBLE! We don’t need any 100+ temperatures! We need to set some records for lowest high temperatures during the summer!

    • Boring Oregon says:

      I just want a nice average summer, not to hot, not too cold, but just right.

  28. MasterNate says:

    Excellent post mark. Not really what I want to hear but at least our nights are usually comfortable around here. I can take warmer than average so long we do it with out humidity.

  29. W7ENK says:

    You realize that at any time, the models could slam the door on this warm/dry pattern and we end up with a June/July 2010-2011, August 1983 redux…

  30. Boring Oregon says:

    I like your new picture Mark.

  31. janice says:

    Great information as usual! Glad your back from vacation! ! Missed your forcasts!

  32. Get out the sunscreen…first…by the way.

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