“Coldest winter nationally in over 100 years”
“12th snowiest meteorological winter on record for Portland” (records go back to winter of 1881/82)
“Coldest March on record in Caribou and Bangor”
“One of the deepest snow packs on record to start the month of April in Caribou.”
These are headlines that may have caught your eye over the past few months. There’s no question the cold and snowy winter of 2013-2014 will be remembered as one of the harshest in recent memory. In the month of March alone, Caribou dropped below zero 14 nights which tied March of 1939 for the most nights below zero for the month. It was a good old fashioned Maine winter!
I’ve been forecasting in Maine and New Hampshire for a while now and there’s no question in my mind that I issued more snowfall and ice forecast maps this winter than any other. Here are just the ones I saved between the months of December and March.
Snowfall was above normal for the entire state during the winter of 2013/14. Here’s the breakdown for Portland, Bangor, Caribou.
- 150.5 inches Caribou / 42 inches above normal
- 83.4 inches Portland / 21 inches above normal
- 80.0 inches Bangor / 14 inches above normal
So where do we go from here you might be asking? The recent stretch of well deserved milder days may be starting a trend. We’re Mainers and we know better, right? Each month for the past half year has ended below normal in temperatures, and what would make us think June, July, and August will be any different?
The Climate Prediction Center suggests the up coming summer will have the chance for more below normal temperatures, but all of it is centered west of us in the Northern Plains and Great Lakes. In fact, they have put us in the above normal temperature range for the first time in many months for the period running from June to August.
The precipitation forecast for June through August by the CPC doesn’t provide too much insight to expected summer rainfall. They’ve kept most of the country in EC or equal chances of being above or below average in rainfall.
It’s worth mentioning there are some reliable forecast models showing a slightly different solution. This is the JAMSTEC model which suggests most of the eastern half of the US will be colder than normal this summer.
This model also indicates around normal of slightly above normal precipitation throughout the summer months for our area. I don’t put much stock into this though because summer precipitation can be highly variable due to the nature of convective or thunderstorm activity.
And last but not least, we can’t forget our friends at the Farmers Almanac who are hitting a humid, wet, and stormy summer hard here in the Northeast. While I don’t put much stock in the almanac forecast, because of the lack of science, many folks swear and live by it. The bread recipe’s on page 84 look good though.
Some good news in the seasonal forecast for New England may be hidden in the on coming El Niño this summer. It is defined as an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean. While far away from us here in Maine, it has an effect on the strength and position of the jet stream during the summer months. A typical El Niño will produce a strong subtropical jet which often prohibits the development of tropical cyclones in the normal suspect areas of the deep tropics. Winds are too strong aloft in that scenario.
An area to keep an eye on for development though will be over the warmer than normal waters off the southeastern part of the US late summer into early fall. With that set up, tropical cyclones can develop quickly and close to US shores.
A few definites this summer will be mosquitoes, black flies, and cookouts with friends and family. Seasonal forecasts on the other hand are nothing more than an educated guess in my book, but interesting nonetheless. Regardless of the weather set-up, I hope everyone has a great summer in Vacationland!