Winter 2016 / 17 Recap
Back in October 2016, we called for a November through March period that was going to be colder than normal (in aggregate) for the northern tier east of the Mississippi River (fig 1). As is obvious from Figure 2, the overall cool weather did not materialize as temperatures averaged some 2 C warmer in Chicago and more than 1.5 C warmer in PA and NY over the 5-month period. Even the New England states, while closer to seasonal, was still 0.5 C warmer than normal. Our ERCOT forecast, however, was in the right direction as TX averaged some 2 C warmer than normal. A difficult winter for predictions as most outlets, including this one, got it wrong as all signs initially pointed towards a cold winter. But, Mother Nature had other plans!
Summer 2017 Outlook
Currently, we are in a “neutral” El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) pattern after just coming off a mild La Nina fall/winter. As I have stated numerous times before, the ENSO pattern has more influence on Northern Hemisphere winter than summer. But, it is still worthwhile to incorporate the ENSO state into a summer analysis as it may have some impact on the early summer outlook.
That being said, the analog years used for this analysis present quite a confusing picture. There was no clear-cut temperature anomaly pattern that jumped out. So, a blend of the analogs was used along with the accompanying soil moisture anomaly results from early April (fig. 3). As you can see, the extreme drought that has plagued California has ended. Now, just a few localized pockets of moderate drought remain. The good thing about moderate drought is that it can be easily erased in a few weeks given normal precipitation from typical frontal passages. And since this Spring has been fairly active with frontal passages (and precipitation), we expect some of the current drought conditions to be alleviated.
Figure 4 shows our Summer 2017 Outlook. We believe that most of the country will experience normal temperatures, in aggregate, from May through September. The exception to this is two pockets of cooler-than-normal conditions in the northern Plains and Florida and warm anomalies in the Inter-mountain West, central/southern Plains, and the Northeast. Please keep in mind that this forecast is for the aggregate period of May through September. By no means do we feel that any location will be normal, cool, or warm for each day in the 5-month period. Even for a region that we believe will experience a cool anomaly in aggregate from May through September, for instance, that does not rule out periods of warm anomalies.
As for the timing of the anomalies, the heat in the Northeast appears to be likely during all months but most prevalent in August. In ERCOT, July and August appear to be the most anomalous. This makes sense as it will take a few months to evaporate the soil moisture caused by the Spring rains. Then, the heat can develop in earnest.
Risks to our temperature outlook include a warmer Ohio Valley and western Great Lakes than the “normal” we currently predict. The analog years are showing a very warm early summer for these two regions followed by cooler conditions later in the season, especially September. Additionally, we do see potential for the southern Plains heat anomaly to extend further south into Texas.
In a “normal” Atlantic hurricane season (June 1 – November 30), 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, with 2 of those hurricanes classified as category 3 or above are expected. For the 2017 season, we are predicting an above-average year and are calling for 14 named storms, 9 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. As for the regions of likely landfall, our analysis is showing a predominance for the Gulf of Mexico (as opposed to the East Coast, north of Florida) with a Florida landfall being two-times more likely than a Texas landfall or a central Gulf landfall. This also fits in well with our temperature anomalies which showed cooler-than-normal conditions for the state of Florida.
NOTE: ESCOWare® and ESCO Advisors™ provide this information as a courtesy to enhance the risk management process and are not responsible for the accuracy of this forecast and/or actions taken as a result of this forecast information.
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