FOX 5 Summer Outlook 2016

Believe it or not, the murky May pattern so far has us thinking a lot about summer here in the weather department. These days it seems like the sun will never come out again, and with summer just around the corner there are a lot of questions pertaining to what the coming months could bring. Check out the video we did on Facebook where we answered all your questions.

With these predictions in mind, let's look back at the crazy year we've had so far and take a glimpse at what could be in store for the upcoming months. 

It’s Beginning to (Not) Look A Lot Like Christmas!
Ever wonder what Christmas in the Caribbean feels like? We got a taste of it this year. It was one of the warmest Christmas Eve’s on record as Reagan National reached 71°, with Christmas Day falling just short at 69°. The warm Christmas wrapped up what was the warmest end to a year the DC and Baltimore region has ever seen.

A WHAT in January?!?!
Even forecasters were amazed at this one. Hurricane season starts on June 1st, or at least it was supposed to, but Mother Nature did not get the memo. To the surprise of many, meteorologist were tracking the first hurricane of the year in the Atlantic on January 13th, when Hurricane Alex developed. Alex is only the second known hurricane to ever form in January.

Seemingly determined to make up for lost ground, Mother Nature brought winter to the DC region with one heck of a bang on January 22-23rd. Now known as #TheWinterAwakens or Snowzilla, portions of the region were buried in 30-40” of snow. It was the 4th worst blizzard on record for Washington, DC (17.9”) and the worst of all time for Baltimore (29.2”) with many schools and businesses around the region closed for a week following the storm.

Thunder, Wind, and Tornadoes…Oh My!
After a cold start to February including a bad ice storm for parts of the region, temperatures by the end of the month had climbed back into the mid-60s. But the seemly early spring temperatures brought some unwelcome spring weather as well. In what was one of the most destructive February severe weather days in the history of Virginia, a series of tornadoes wreaked havoc across the state. This included the strongest February tornado on record for the state, an EF-3 in Appomattox, VA.

Seasonal April Fools
Things were going well for Punxsutawney Phil. His prediction for an early spring seemed to be on track with Washington, DC seeing the forth warmest March on record…but then came April. It snowed three times in the first 9 days of April, with some locations around the region picking up several inches of snow. It was not enough to cause problems, but not what a city ready for spring wanted to see. Phil declined all attempts for an interview, but vowed to try again next year regardless.

Spring At Last!
Almost immediately following the April snow, the region got what really was their first extended break of the year. Of the 17 days between April 10th and 26th, only 3 days recorded measurable rain as temperatures consistently settled into springtime 70s and 80s. April received so little rain in fact that forecasters were becoming concerned about how dry it was, but then came…

April 27th was day one. Today (May 10th) is day fourteen…and counting. Aside of a welcome break on Mother’s Day, the sun has seemingly disappeared from the DC sky and the forecast calls for more rain through Saturday. Thirteen straight days of measurable rain set a record for the longest stretch in DC’s history. May is also off to quite the opposite start as 2015, the hottest May on record in DC. So is there any hope for the coming summer?

Summer Is Almost Here!

The unofficial start of summer is Memorial Day, which is only 19 days away. The good news is there are a number of weather signs that say we may get rid of this muddy May pattern by that time, and see temperatures more typical of late spring and early summer. Summer itself does not actually begin until the summer solstice, June 20th at 6:35pm. This will also be the longest day of the year, with (hopefully…) 14 hours, 53 minutes, and 54 seconds of glorious sunshine!

As The Merrymen Would Say…It’s Looking Hot Hot Hot!

Like your summers hot? Well then this might be the summer for you! Last year was all about El Niño. Well it’s big sisters turn this year, and the buzzword you will hear a lot is La Niña. These are abnormally cool surface temperatures in the central Pacific. For us in DC, this typically means a hotter than normal summer. This is far from the only thing we look at when doing a seasonal outlook however, but may other factors including ocean temperatures elsewhere in the world, current atmospheric weather patterns, and climate model guidance are pointing towards a hot summer. Using statistics from previous years, we are calling for an abnormally hot summer with 45-55 days at or above 90°F, and 1-3 days above 100°F. La Niña will be gathering strength as the summer goes on so the best chance for heat waves in our opinion are “back loaded” on summer, meaning we favor the hottest period between late July and mid-September. Precipitation wise, we expect near normal to below normal precipitation but are concerned with the potential for more severe weather than in the previous several summers.

Hungry Hungry Hurricanes

The past few summers, the East Coast has gotten pretty lucky in terms of hurricanes. 2012 was really the last very active hurricane season, and that was the year that brought the region Sandy so it has been a welcome break. However there are concerns that the break could be at an end, and 2016 could be a more active tropical season. Once again we must look to La Niña and what effect it has on the atmosphere. Cooler waters in the central pacific mean less thunderstorm activity in the region as well. Less thunderstorm activity in this region actually translates to lighter winds over the Atlantic basin. Due to their size, hurricanes need lighter ambient winds to help them stay organized, making La Niña an ideal pattern for them. In addition, waters in the Atlantic remain abnormally warm. We believe both of these factors will contribute to an above normal hurricane season. We are forecasting 12-15 named storms with 8-12 of those becoming hurricanes, and 3-5 of those being major hurricanes (category 3 or higher). Despite our best attempts, it is impossible to forecast whether or not an East Coast landfall is more likely this year than any other year. 
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