Metro-East News

You’re going to want to check out this summer’s long-range weather forecast

Swimmers and lifeguards enjoy the day at Splash City Family Waterpark in Collinsville. Weather forecasters are predicting a hotter-than-normal summer.
Swimmers and lifeguards enjoy the day at Splash City Family Waterpark in Collinsville. Weather forecasters are predicting a hotter-than-normal summer. snagy@bnd.com

Break out the shades and sun tan lotion, folks. And don’t forget to roll out that irrigation hose for the backyard garden. The summer weather for Southwestern Illinois is going to be a hotter and drier than normal.

As if you needed any reminding of that, after the mercury hit a sizzling and muggy 95 degrees on Sunday. Temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s are expected to continue throughout this week.

Well, get ready for more of the same, especially in July and August, according to Doug Gillham, a meteorologist with the Weather Network.

“We’re forecasting a warmer than normal summer,” Gillham said. “We think it’ll be warmer than the past three summers, without it becoming a scorching hot summer.”

We’re forecasting a warmer than normal summer. We think it’ll be warmer than the past three summers, without it becoming a scorching hot summer.

Doug Gillham, meteorologist with Weather Network

During a typical summer in Southwestern Illinois, sunny days feature high temps in the upper 80s. This summer, get ready for lots of sunshine and “more days into the mid- and upper-90s than in a typical summer.”

Don’t worry, though. While it will be getting hot out, the mercury won’t scream the way it did during the nasty hot Summer of 2012, when drought conditions and record-setting triple-digit heat gripped the Midwest for weeks on end.

So what’s with all the heat this year, especially compared to the heavy rainfalls of last summer that turned backyard into ponds and canceled countless baseball and softball games?

As usual when you talk about weather forecasts and climate, the discussion quickly moves into an analysis of big, global forces that involve what’s going on in the world’s ocean waters. And those waters right now are unusually warm.

“We’re making a transition from one of the strongest El Niño’s on record to a strong La Niña,” Gillham said. “A lot of transition is going on in the global pattern.”

El Niño is the weather phenomenon caused when sea surface temperatures rise in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. A year ago dire predictions of epic rains and flooding greeted the upcoming El Niño. While this year’s El Niño caused flooding in the American Southeast and droughts in Asia, the monster rainfalls forecast for the American West Coast never materialized.

“We’re sticking a fork in this El Niño and calling it done,” the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week after Pacific sea surface temperatures returned to normal.

North America’s weather patterns are now being influenced by La Niña, which is characterized by cooler-than-normal ocean waters. The result: drier summers in the central United States, according to Gillham.

And that’s what you’re probably going to see in Southwestern Illinois, along with hotter-than-usual temps.

Because of the higher-than-normal temps, “Even if you have normal rainfall, you end up with water needs” because hot temperatures dry ground water faster, Gillham said.

“I think there will be agricultural concerns especially in the second half of the summer,” he said.

Mike Fitzgerald: 618-239-2533, @MikeFitz3000

  Comments