Long-time readers of this site will know that we don’t place a whole lot of confidence in seasonal forecasting. Trying to predict weather (note that’s “weather” not “climate”) conditions months in advance is not exactly an exact science. Case-in-point: Much of the Houston area has not gotten a drop of rain in the month of May, and the next week or so looks dry. And yet here’s NOAA’s monthly outlook for precipitation for the month of May, issued on April 30th:
This forecast, quite clearly, will likely bust. And it was issued the day before the month of May began. So while I do think there is some value in seasonal forecasting, you should not take it to the bank.
Given that May has started out warmer than normal, our general expectation is that this overall pattern will probably persist through much of the summer. But let’s be a bit more scientific and look at the monthly climate models. For the purposes of this forecast, we’re using the CFS (version 2) model, and averaging the daily runs over the last seven days. The graphic below depicts (from left to right, top to bottom) the forecast temperature anomaly for June, July, August, and September.
You can click on the image above to enlarge it. The basic message is that June and July are forecast to have near normal temperatures in southeast Texas, whereas August and September are forecast to have temperatures 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Essentially, this means there isn’t that strong of a signal for a warmer or cooler summer. So the safe bet, IMO, is a forecast for somewhat warmer than normal conditions this summer, but not an outright scorcher with days upon days of 100-degree weather.
This is probably the bigger concern for Houston this summer. After all, we saw in 2017 the effect of too much rain (waaaaaaay too much rain) with Hurricane Harvey. But an extreme drought also has negative consequences. Here, then, is the rain forecast for June, July, August, and September (same methodology as above).
In the forecasts above, the model calls for essentially near normal precipitation for each of the four months (slightly wetter in June, and slightly drier in July and August). These differences are minor enough to not be significant. Overall, I’d expect this summer to be drier than normal unless we see the effects of one or more tropical systems, from a low pressure system to a hurricane. With Harvey still fresh in our minds, it is important to remember that tropical moisture in July or August is not necessarily a bad thing—it might help break a drought, and 5 to 10 inches of rain over a few days will be manageable.
Right now, the bad news is that we’re probably going to be headed into the hottest months of the year with an annual rainfall deficit (after a dry May). That is not a good place to be as a region if you’re concerned about drought. (Which I am).
A note from our sponsor
As we gear up for what looks to be a warmer-than-normal summer, I wanted to share a couple of messages from our sponsor, Reliant. First of all, they have some useful tips on keeping your AC bill down, and secondly, they’re offering rewards for helping the state’s electricity grid.
Reliant has more tips here, but some basic things you can do include:
- Set thermostat 4 °F higher when you’re away from home for more than four hours
- Install a programmable thermostat to save an estimated 10 percent in costs
- Wait until dishwasher is full before running it; wash full loads of clothes in cold water
- Use blinds or curtains during the summer to reduce solar heat gain by up to 50 percent
In addition, Reliant has a Degrees of Difference program that rewards customers for reducing their electricity use during periods of high demand during the summer. For more information, go here.