Friday, May 4, 2012

2 views of our summer forecast

The start of meteorological summer is still nearly a month away (June 1), but a lot of people already are talking about what type of summer we can expect in the Charlotte region.

Our unusually warm winter and very mild March stoked conversation that summer will be very hot. It's the old "If it's this hot in March, wait until summer" argument.

So I've taken a look at forecasts from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center and from Accu-Weather, and they seem to agree. Both are calling for warmer-than-average temperatures and a rather hazy prediction on precipitation. The CPC's rainfall forecast is for "an equal chance" of above-average, average or below-average precipitation. Accu-Weather, meanwhile, puts the Charlotte region at the southern edge of what it expects to be an area of wet weather with violent storm outbreaks.

Here are some highlights of the forecasts:

Warmth: There's pretty much a consensus on this. Meteorologists expect it to be warmer than usual across the region. Given the conditions we've had since winter, that's no surprise.

CPC rainfall forecast: That "equal chance" designation has been placed over most of the United States by NOAA meteorologists. They say it's difficult to predict rainfall, and it's especially tough this summer.

Accu-Weather's storm forecast: Meteorologists for the Pennsylvania-based company expect June and August to be the wettest months in our region. They also expect an active severe weather season from Indiana and Michigan southeast to Virginia and Maryland. That area includes the northern part of North Carolina (Greensboro and Winston-Salem, especially). Accu-Weather thinks that zone will separate warm conditions from cooler temperatures for a chunk of the summer.

Florida drought: Both NOAA and Accu-Weather expect rainfall to be rather plentiful this summer in the Sunshine State. That's good news for an area that is hard-hit by drought.

Where will it be dry?: The highest chances of hot and dry conditions appear to be in a band from southern Montana down to the Texas Panhandle. That includes much of Wyoming, Idaho, and Colorado, along with western South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas.

Where's the cool weather?: New England and the West Coast.

How about hurricanes?: I plan to write about this subject next week, since several early-season forecasts are out. But meteorologists say they expect the atmospheric steering currents later this summer to be northward along the East Coast.  That could push tropical storms and hurricanes up the coast, similar to what happened last summer with Hurricane Irene.

It also means any system that develops in the eastern Gulf of Mexico could be steered up into Georgia and the Carolinas.