Although Central Texas had a wet start to 2017, this summer’s temperatures should be near a repeat of last year’s summer season, according to Bob Rose, chief meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority today.
Hot summer ahead
Temperatures in the area should be about 1-2 degrees above normal, from late spring through August and possibly into September, he said.
“I do think we are looking at another summer somewhat like we had last summer,” Rose said. “Overall not a record breaker, as far as heat goes or as far as rain goes, but I’m sure we’re going to see some surprises along the way as well.”
He said the area should see “a moderately hot summer ahead” with an estimated 15-20 days in the triple-digit temperature range. Central Texas posted 24 days measuring 100 degrees temperature or greater last year, he said.
“We’re going to get into some 100 [degree days],” Rose said. “That’s weather here in Central Texas.”
An end to the drought statewide?
Central Texas has had above normal rainfall from December to April and is anticipated to have about normal rainfall totals from May through August, trending wetter into the fall, Rose said.
Most areas in the Central Texas region posted 10-15 inches of rain so far this year, with the southern half of Travis County into Bastrop County tallying about two inches of rainfall above normal and near normal rainfall totals in the Hill Country, he said. However, the area along the Gulf Coast between Victoria and Houston snagged the most rainfall totals above normal for this time of year, he said.
Despite Central Texas encountering a dry period for the past 10 days, Rose said the area—and even the state—is “still in pretty good shape.”
“We’re not talking about any drought anywhere around Central Texas at this time or around much of Texas at this time,” he said. “Hopefully, if we get even more rain, we may get to the point that Texas may be drought-free again come next week. It’s pretty rare for a state the size of Texas and the odd shape that it is to get everybody to be drought-free. It’s kind of a unique occurrence.”
Rose said he believes an El Nino weather pattern will develop late-summer and into the fall but not as strong as the pattern experienced in 2015-16.
“We’re not to El Nino yet, but we are definitely seeing signs that the Pacific [Ocean] is trending toward an El Nino,” he said. “Most of the forecasters I’ve been following or seeing their data are cautiously optimistic that we will go toward at least a weak El Nino by this fall, if not a moderate El Nino, peaking sometime in the late fall or the early winter.”
Given the variability in this year’s weather forecast models, Rose said the El Nino prospect is not a certainty and estimates about a 70 percent chance of the area’s weather pattern following an El Nino trend.
“And, if we don’t make the El Nino, we’ll probably stay in neutral,” he said. “There’s very, very little chance we would trend back toward La Nina at this time.”
Since 1950, Rose said there has been only one other time in history—from 1963 to 1966— during which the region moved from an El Nino pattern to a La Nina pattern and then back to an El Nino pattern, in back to back years.
Citing the Colorado State 2017 hurricane season outlook, Bob Rose, Lower Colorado River Authority chief meteorologist, predicts the U.S. will see:
11 named storms/12 is the norm
4 hurricanes/6 is the norm
2 major hurricanes/3 is the norm
El Nino vs. La Nina: What’s the difference?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, during El Nino, the southern portion of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest tend to be warmer than average, and the Southern states—from California to North Carolina—tend to be cooler and wetter than average. During La Nina, these weather conditions are approximately reversed.