Summer outlook: 90-degree heat may be rare


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — If you like a hot West Michigan summer, you may be out of luck this year: 90-degree days may be hard to come by.

Grand Rapids had to wait until June 7 to hit 80 degrees for the first time this year, a full five weeks beyond the average date.

It might be a similar scenario for the first 90-degree day. On average, it happens on June 16.To date, Grand Rapids has only hit 80 degrees twice this year with a top temp of 82 degrees. By this point last year, we already had three 90-degree days and 13 days of temperatures in the 80s.

May through June 10, 2018 was 6.3 degrees warmer than the same period this year.

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But the summer of 2018 was a hot one, with 19 days breaking the 90-degree mark and topping out at 94 degrees several times.
Every month so far in 2019 has been below average, and it appears June will likely follow suit. The latest Storm Team 8 forecast doesn’t have a single high temperature in the 80s and every day at or below average.
Indications are once we get beyond the eight-day period, even 80-degree temperatures may be hard to achieve.
One of the reasons behind the cooler conditions is excessive moisture throughout the Great Lakes and  Central Plains. Many areas in the Central-Southern Plains have a rainfall surplus more than 5 to 10 inches.

The heavy rains have led to widespread flooding and very wet soil. The moisture content across the majority of the Eastern U.S. is well above average.
Normally Michigan’s heat arrives with a southernly winds, but with all that moisture in the ground, it will be difficult to heat up the Plains states. More of the sun’s energy will be consumed evaporating the water in the ground as opposed to directly heating the air above it. The net result will likely be cooler temperatures over the region, which is reflected in the Climate Prediction Center’s summer outlook (June, July and August).

The CPC’s outlook also remains wet over the same areas, so it appears soil moisture content will remain above average for the majority of the summer. Additionally, El Nino continues in the tropical Pacific. Note the warmer than average water near the equator.This contributed to the coldest July on record in 2009 and a cool summer in 2015, with only two days hitting 90 degrees.

Lake Michigan hasn’t been spared, with water temperatures running cooler than average and the coolest since 2014. Because of these factors and the abundant soil moisture, it’s my opinion that CPC could have shifted the below average contour over Michigan. That could change since we are only 10 days into the meteorological summer. Even if we do not achieve many 90 degree temperatures, we’ll still enjoy many nice summer days.

Meteorologist Terri DeBoer and I have a running bet. She thinks this summer won’t achieve any 90 degrees days like 2014 and I put it at two days, similar to 2015. Stay tuned to see who wins!

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