Chris Coleman, ERCOT Senior Meteorologist
Summer 2019 PRELIMINARY Weather Outlook (published 4/4/19)
This past summer was the 7th hottest on record for the state of Texas (124 historical summers, mean temperature). It was the hottest summer since 2011 and second-hottest this century.
I can say, with high confidence, we will not have a repeat of 2011 this summer. The spring of 2011 was already showing widespread, severe drought conditions – and summerlike heat as a result. That’s not the setup this spring.
Texas has, however, seen some increasingly dry concerns in the early-spring – especially South Central and Southwest. Fortunately, this is mostly impacting lawns and vegetation thus far, as reservoirs are currently 89% full across the state, which is higher than April of last year. Also, the next 2-3 months will provide opportunity to improve drier ground in parts of the state. An El Niño may be of assistance. Point being, soil moisture, stream flows, and reservoir levels all have strong contributions to the level of summer heat. Currently, there isn’t much support for the extreme, prolonged heat of 2011. It’s also currently appearing unlikely to reach the mean temperatures of last year.
The preliminary summer temperature forecast is not above-normal, based on a 10-year normal. This means, the upcoming summer is unlikely to be similar to one of the two or three hottest summers of the past ten years. Still some uncertainty if summer 2019 will be middle-of-the-pack when compared to recent summers – or on the milder (cooler) end of the range. For now, I’d lean more toward the mid-range. Or maybe even the low part of the hot-range (the upper-third of all historical summers). There are indications that the minimum temperatures (overnight/morning lows) will be more above-normal than the maximum temperatures (afternoon highs).
The El Niño is expected to continue throughout the spring and potentially into or through the summer months. While that doesn’t guarantee rain, it is more difficult to have extreme, prolonged droughts and extreme, prolonged heat during the summer season. However, some additional rainfall in April would add to this sentiment – and add forecast confidence to a summer temperature outlook that doesn’t stray too hot from normal.
The preliminary summer outlook is neither extreme, above normal temperatures nor extreme, below normal rainfall. Understand, however, a four-month summer season (June-September) can have a period that reaches extreme levels. It just may not be a common trend over the summer as a whole. More specifics – and any changes to the forecast, if necessary – will be available May 1. Maps will also be included.
Spring 2019 Weather Outlook (published 3/8/19)
The spring weather patterns will likely have some lingering influence from the winter.
Clouds, cold fronts, and precipitation were common in recent months. The fronts were mostly limited in cold intensity, but they did keep clouds frequent and warm periods (especially daytime temperatures) limited. The two cold periods of the winter technically didn’t happen during ERCOT or meteorological winter. Instead, the coldest extremes occurred in mid-November and early-March.
A weak El Niño’s developed during the winter season, which has been a major driver of the recent weather patterns in ERCOT. The El Niño will likely still have some influence during the spring season. The ERCOT footprint should see continued cloud and precipitation impacts.
The forecast for the spring season shows no strong deviations from normal, and a bit of a lean toward the cooler side overall. This would be not quite as warm as spring of 2018 – but not necessarily much different.
The winter season was slightly warmer than normal. Cooler than normal with the daytime max temperatures, but quite a bit warmer than normal with the overnight temperatures and morning lows. That same theme should carry into the spring season. Clouds and rain chances will limit daytime heating on many days. But that also would have a tendency to keep the overnight temperatures above normal.
Opportunities for additional rainfall – including above-normal rainfall – should be prevalent in the spring season. The weak El Niño will support the rain chances (and cloud cover). There are parts of South and West Texas which have become increasingly dry over the winter season, and some significant rain would be beneficial – if not necessary – to avoid drought conditions increasing heading into the summer. Most of the state is free from any significant drought concerns heading into the spring season (especially North, Central, East, and Coast). But even for those regions, additional rainfall in the spring would be quite beneficial. Fortunately, this weather pattern suggests most of the state should see normal to above normal rainfall during the spring months. Spring rains have a large role in setting up temperature potential for the summer season.