(WGHP) – With Memorial Day marking the unofficial start to summer and the first day of meteorological summer beginning this week on June 1, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released an updated look at what to expect this summer.
While we aren’t able to forecast exact numbers several months out, NOAA released temperature and precipitation outlooks for the summer months. The outlooks give us a general idea of how temperatures and precipitation from June through August will compare to normal.
Let’s take a look at what’s considered normal in the Triad during meteorological summer: June, July and August.
According to NWS Raleigh, our normal high temperatures in June are in the low 80s but by the end of the month and into July, normal high temperatures reach the upper 80s.
On average, high temperatures in the Triad reach the warmest normal high temperatures in late July. This doesn’t mean we don’t see 90-degree days or even triple digits. It just means normally highs are in the upper 80s, so anything warmer is considered “above normal” for the Triad.
Once we reach August, normal high temperatures steadily begin to decline with normal high temperatures going from the upper 80s at the start of the month to the mid 80s by the end of August.
Morning low temperatures in June are normally in the low 60s but by early July and August normal low temperatures approach the 70s.
According to NWS Raleigh, normal rainfall from June through August totals 12.63 inches with an average of four inches falling each month. June’s normal rainfall is 4.09 inches, July rainfall is normally 4.18 inches and August is slightly higher with a rainfall normal of 4.36 inches.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what’s considered a normal summer in the Piedmont Triad, let’s take a look at what NOAA is forecasting for the summer months.
NOAA is forecasting a 40% chance of an above-normal summer in the Triad and across the Carolinas.
In fact, most of the East Coast, West Coast and southern United States is forecast to see an above-normal summer.
In the Triad, June’s normal average high temperature is 85.2 degrees and July’s average high temperature is normally 88.5 degrees. The normal average high temperature in August is 86.6 degrees.
When we average the three months together, a normal summer average high temperature is approximately 86.8 degrees. Since NOAA is forecasting a good chance of above-normal temperatures this summer, we can assume we’ll be slightly warmer than this over the same three-month period.
In simpler words, we will likely have several 90-degree days and even the possibility for a few triple-digit days this summer.
Keep in mind that while the average temperature over the three months may be above normal, we can still have cooler-than-normal days. In the summer months, the cooler days typically occur when we see cloudy days or a summer cold front.
NOAA is forecasting a 33% chance of a wetter-than-normal summer in the Carolinas. While the eastern half of the United States is more likely to see above-normal rainfall this summer, the Pacific Northwest and the southwestern United States are expected to be drier than normal.
If we were to see a wetter-than-normal summer, that would mean that instead of the 12.63 inches we typically observe over the three months, we will likely see over that amount.
While each month could fall near-average or above-average for rainfall for this to occur, we could also have a dry month or two this summer with the other months making up the rainfall that was lacking in a different month.
The Triad has already observed 20.18 inches of rainfall in 2023. When compared to the normal through the end of May, yearly rainfall is already nearly four inches above normal.
With that being said, drought is non-existent in the Triad as of May 29 and not a concern for the majority of the Tar Heel State.
A few areas along the coast and southeast of Charlotte are experiencing abnormally dry conditions but it wouldn’t be a shock if the dry conditions were eliminated once the Memorial Day weekend rainfall is factored into the drought monitor.
NOAA also released its seasonal drought outlook on May 18. It shows the drought tendency from May 18 through August 31.
Since the Triad is not currently experiencing drought conditions and above-normal precipitation is expected over the summer, the Climate Prediction Center is not currently forecasting drought conditions in the Triad or in North Carolina.
In October 2022, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed drought conditions existed in nearly 63% of the contiguous United States.
Since October, drought coverage and intensity have decreased particularly in the West, northern Great Plains, Midwest and the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys.
According to the drought monitor, as of early May, drought covers nearly 23% of the contiguous United States.
The biggest drought improvements occurred in California where drought conditions existed in 99% of the state in early December 2022 and, as of May, less than 6% of the state is currently experiencing drought conditions. An extremely wet winter aided in reducing or eliminating drought across the majority of the state.
For June, July and August, below-normal precipitation is expected in the Pacific Northwest, therefore drought is forecast to persist. Drought is also forecast to persist in the northern Rockies from western Wyoming to central Montana.
In Florida, the summer months are known climatologically for their rainfall, especially from afternoon thunderstorms. For that reason, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting significant drought improvements resulting in the elimination of drought conditions.
The Central Plains are forecast to see improvement in drought conditions. However, drought is still forecast to remain in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska.