Summer couldn’t arrive soon enough for coach Michaela Ashworth’s swimmers at Sardis Forest Swim Club in southeast Charlotte.
Gradually rising temperatures over the past week have been a relief after a spring that was wet and often chilly. Right about now, Ashworth says, summer sounds nice.
Summer officially begins at 1:04 a.m. Friday, marking the point when the sun is furthest north of the equator.
Meteorologists say summer is arriving – gradually. And they expect at least the wet portion of the spring trend to continue for the next few months.
“It’s gotten better, and we’re happy for that,” Ashworth said Thursday, as she prepared her team for an evening Greater Charlotte Summer Swim League meet against Bridge Hampton. “There were some cool days back in May.
“The water was warm, but the air was not. We saw some blue lips on the kids when they got out.”
Once the season began in early June, swimmers ran into another problem – frequent outbreaks of evening thunderstorms.
“We’ve been fortunate, because we’ve been able to complete our meets,” Ashworth said. “But some other teams have makeups coming.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Lauren Visin said what we experienced in May and early June was part of what makes up “normal.”
“The jet stream was a bit lower in May,” said Visin, adding that cooler air masses were allowed to dip a bit farther south than usual. “But a lot of it was clouds and precipitation. It has been wet. That pattern is not unusual. It’s just that many other years, some other area gets it. This year it’s our turn.”
Charlotte has received 6.27 inches of rain so far this month – nearly 3.8 inches more than average. May’s rainfall was close to average, but temperatures for the month were 1 degree below what we’d expect. The first three weeks of the month were cooler than that.
Meteorologists aren’t in full agreement on the summer pattern for the Carolinas, but there is a consensus that temperatures won’t be too far out of the ordinary.
Alex Sosnowski, a long-range forecasters with Accu-Weather, predicts temperatures near normal with frequent storms in the Southeast. The government’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for average temperatures but a strong chance that precipitation will be above average. The Weather Channel predicts warmer-than-average temperatures for the summer.
Many meteorologists say they expect much of the summer to feature a Bermuda high, which is typical in the Southeast. High pressure becomes parked near Bermuda, and that brings a southerly flow of warm air into the Carolinas. When that happens, we tend to have average to slightly above average temperatures with frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
If high pressure over the southern Plains takes control from the Bermuda high, that would change the pattern and bring heat waves to the Carolinas – along with occasional clusters of thunderstorms riding around the eastern edge of the high.
However, a Bermuda high also can be the harbinger of trouble in the Southeast with tropical storms and hurricanes.
Visin said the first few days of summer will be the meteorological equivalent of Michaela Ashworth’s swimmers dipping their toes into the water before jumping in.
“We’ll actually be a few degrees below average initially, but we expect temperatures to climb by the beginning of next week,” she said.
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