Summer forecast: Warmer, drier than last year

06/20/2014 1:03 PM

06/20/2014 1:40 PM

Meteorologists say the summer of 2014, which officially starts in Charlotte at 6:51 a.m. Saturday, is likely to be warmer than usual with average rainfall.

In other words, it’ll be nothing like last summer.

On the heels of the summer of 2013 – with its far-above-average rainfall, several flooding episodes, and a lack of searing heat – the summer of 2014 will be a bit warmer than average in the Southeast with typical rainfall totals, meteorologists say.

The official start of summer comes when the sun reaches its farthest point north of the equator, and this year, that happens 42 minutes after sunrise Saturday in Charlotte.

The first day of summer, of course, brings the most daylight of the year. In Charlotte, that will be 14 hours 31 minutes and 15 seconds. That is about 4 3/4 hours more daylight than Dec. 21, the first day of winter.

A persistent pattern of stormy weather last summer produced about twice the average rainfall for Charlotte.

This time around, say government meteorologists, it’ll be a different story. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists are predicting an equal chance of above-average or below-average rainfall.

Temperatures also could be very different. Charlotte’s hottest reading in 2013 was 93 degrees on Aug. 29. Two years ago, Charlotte had three straight days with highs of a record-tying 104 degrees.

This year, say the government’s scientists, there’s a 40 percent chance of above-average temperatures in the Carolinas. The average high on June 21 is 87 degrees, and that number climbs to 89 degrees for much of July.

In case you’re wondering why summer’s warmest temperatures don’t arrive until late July or even August, it’s because of the oceans.

“The oceans regulate the earth’s temperatures, more than any other factor,” said Jeff Taylor of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C. “It takes them longer to reach their maximum temperatures. There’s a bit of lag time.

“That’s why the hurricane season runs through November,” Taylor added. “It takes awhile for oceans to cool.”

Summer follows a spring season that was about average for temperatures and wetter than usual. After a very chilly March, when temperatures averaged 4 degrees below norms, both April and May were a bit warmer than usual.

Rainfall was a bit above average in March and May but nearly 4 1/2 inches above average in April.

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