The 2024 Summer Outlook

June 6, 2024 // Article by: Kevin Winters

Last summer ended up being fairly benign overall in the Ohio Valley and along the East Coast, with the total number of 90 degree days for the season coming in at near or just slightly below normal for many. This turned out to be a nice break for many, compared to persistent heat seen in years past. But Summer is just about here once again, and many may be wondering: how is this season looking? Will the cost of air conditioning be lower again or will the dog days of summer get it's revenge this year? To answer this, we have to take a look at some factors when considering the forecast.

Current Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies

Courtesy of Tropical Tidbits

ENSO and Ocean Temps: The map above shows how warm or cool the waters in the Pacific Ocean are relative to normal. The oranges and reds indicate warmer waters while the blues indicate cooler waters. One thing that stands out is that our El Niño from last winter is no longer with us. Right now, we are in what we call ENSO neutral conditions, simply meaning neither El Niño nor La Niña are officially present at the moment. With that said, you can see the beginnings of La Niña developing as indicated by the cool waters close to South America. We are expecting La Niña to gradually develop over the next few months, likely to become weak or moderate by late summer. La Niña summers tend to be hotter and sometimes drier than normal in the eastern United States due to the development of a ridge of high pressure in the southern United States and western Atlantic Ocean.

Another thing that stands out on this map are the much warmer than normal waters off the east coast of Asia and the cooler than normal waters towards the west Coast of the United States. This is indicative of the continuation of a negative PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). When the PDO is negative in the summer, it usually supports the northwestern United States staying cooler than normal, allowing the eastern United States to be hotter than normal.

The developing La Niña and the persistent negative PDO were two factors that we heavily considered when coming up with analogs (years that had similar conditions) for this summer. When looking at these years, it is no surprise that the blend supports a pattern indicative of a cooler Pacific Northwest and a hot and drier East with high pressure in place.

WeatherWorks Summer Pattern Map Derived From Seasonal Analogs

Temperature Outlook: Hot in the East: With these factors in mind, our forecast calls for a pretty hot summer overall in the eastern part of the country, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. The summer won't start off hot, however, as we expect the rest of June to be a fairly temperate month overall for at least the Midwest and East Coast. While we aren't dismissing the possibility of short spurts of heat, the most persistent heat is expected to occur in the central part of the country. As we head into July, we expect more persistent heat and a few longer lasting heat waves to turn more likely along the East Coast, as La Niña starts to become better established. The month of August looks to be the hottest part of the summer for many in the Midwest and along the East Coast, as this period should feature the highest risk of excessive heat and the possibility of seeing a 100 degree day or two. If there is any saving grace this summer, the heat ridge may allow humidity levels to remain somewhat in check later this summer, keeping heat from being ridiculously excessive.

WeatherWorks Summer 2024 Temperature Outlook

Precipitation Outlook: Drought Potential?: From a precipitation standpoint, June will be the wettest month of the summer in the Ohio Valley and Northeast, featuring frequent opportunities for showers and storms to occur. The big reason for this is that these areas will be in what is called the "ring of fire", or simply just the dividing point between excessive heat and cooler temperatures. As we move into July, we expect conditions to dry out some, especially along the East Coast. Should there be drought concerns this summer for the Midwest and East Coast, it would occur in August when prolonged stretches of dry weather become the most likely. One factor that may prevent drought this summer is the tropics turning busier once we head into August. This would increase the risk of tropical moisture sneaking up the East Coast, which would certainly cut down on the dry periods.

WeatherWorks Summer 2024 Precipitation Outlook

All in all, this summer should be hotter than last year in the Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic, and Northeast with the air conditioners certainly looking to be used more. It is not looking like the driest summer in the world, though the excessive rainfall seen in New England last summer shouldn't be present this year as most areas likely come in slightly drier than normal. 

Finally, for those wondering just how many 90 degree days we may see this year, the chart above shows a city by city breakdown of our forecast heading into the rest of the summer season for cities across the northeast and midwest.


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