Weather experts have weighed in on the upcoming summer season, and the forecast is in. A strong El Niño could make for fewer hurricanes, while temperatures could skyrocket and rain could deluge.
In other words, the Northeast most likely will not have to worry about a Superstorm Sandy type tempest. However, in terms of comfort it will be “out of the freezer, into the fire,” as the Old Farmer’s Almanac put it.
“Summer is going to be a scorcher with higher-than-average temps and lower-than-average rainfall throughout most of the continent,” said the Almanac in its annual prediction, released at the end of April. “Be prepared for record-breaking ‘sizzle’ in parts of the country.”
The sizzle will be a bit too literal in some parts, the Almanac warned, with drought continuing and intensifying in many parts of the west, south, and mid-west, and an increased threat of wildfires.
On another front, NASA and other agencies are monitoring wind and wave patterns in the Pacific that could indicate a return of El Niño, the weather phenomenon that pushes water levels higher on Turtle Island’s side of the ocean. Usually the trade winds warm the water and move it toward Indonesia in a series of ripples called Kelvin waves, NASA said on May 19. But this year’s indications are that the wind is pushing these waves back toward the west coast of South America, which—if it happens—will put the world’s largest repository of warm water on Turtle Island’s doorstep.
Because of this, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center on May 8 said there’s a 65 percent chance than an El Niño will develop on the scale of the one that occurred during 1997-98, when weather patterns were significantly changed.
This means potential good luck for hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on May 22.
“El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes,” NOAA said in a statement. “El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.”
What this means is “a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season,” NOAA said.
The sweltering summer, though, will stand in sharp contrast to the frigid winter that much of Turtle Island endured, and which was also predicted by the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
“For example, Washington D.C. had 32 inches of snowfall throughout the season, ranking it as one of snowiest since records began in 1888. It was the winter that felt like it would never end!” the Almanac said by way of example. “For summer, we predict that Washington D.C. will be hit with red-hot heat in the beginning of June—before summer even officially begins!”
And it will only go uphill, temperature-wise, with an “unrelenting” rise in mercury during July and August, the Almanac said. The forecasters also predicted above-average rainfall.
“Combined with the heat, the nation’s capital will seem downright tropical,” the Almanac said, adding that we are not completely off the hook when it comes to powerful storms. “As summer winds down, a hurricane is predicted to hit the Atlantic Corridor in early- to mid-September, providing one last punch.”
Here, an explanation of the developing El Niño phenomenon.