At the end of last summer after we recorded one of the five hottest summers on record, I wrote an article that looked into if the summer heat could be an indicator of what’s to come this winter. For the most part, the ‘predictions’ offered by the winters that followed those five hot summers were on target.
Last fall we had a media workshop at the National Weather Service in Shreveport and one of the NWS meteorologists made an interesting presentation that pointed out how some of our recent extreme weather events tend to occur near the extremes in the sun’s solar cycles. That got me thinking about those top 5 summers. So I pulled up a graph (see below) of the solar cycles that dates back to the 1880s and I found that ALL FIVE occurred a few years after a solar cycle minimum when the sun starts to ‘wake up’. I’ve highlighted those summers with the green lines.
The big question that everyone asks about our spring weather is whether will we see a lot of tornadoes. I’ve looked at the weather that we experienced during the winters following those five hot summers. To me, it appears that of those five, the weather that we experienced at the beginning of 2012 most closely resembles the weather that we have experienced so far this year. It looks like the weather this year is a few months ahead of what happened in 2012. Back in 2012, March was an extremely wet month. We started to dry up a bit during the month of April and that dry pattern lasted through all of May. We then experienced above-normal rainfall during the months of June, July, and August. This year January proved to be a very wet month, and we have started to dry up some during the month of February with more normal rainfall.
I know this is a big assumption, but let’s assume this wet-dry-wet pattern repeats in the months ahead. What does that mean for our spring? First, after some severe weather to begin the month, our severe weather season could get off to a slow start during the rest of March with below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures. By April, we could start the second wet part of the ‘wet-dry-wet’ pattern mentioned above which means that severe weather could come more often. Back in 2012, the second ‘wet’ period lasted for several months, so the active severe weather could continue through much of May with above-normal rainfall possibly continuing through June.
In the past 20 years, we’ve averaged between 10 & 15 tornadoes each spring. Back in 2012, we had 17 tornado touchdowns. All of those occurred during the first half of the severe weather season in March and early April. Typically, the peak of tornado season in our area is during the last half of April. Given that we were quiet during that part of the season back in 2012 and this year we could be more active during that time this year, I’d expect to see even more tornadoes this spring in our area with 20 or more potential tornado touchdowns possible.
Chances are that we will see above-normal total rainfall during the March through May period with slightly above-normal average temperatures. If we end up with rather wet conditions for the last half of spring, it could be good news for the summer as we likely won’t be as hot as last summer.
I always say that you must take any weather outlook beyond seven days with a ‘grain of salt’. That’s certainly the case with this outlook, but it will interesting to see if the patterns seen in the past provide us any insight into our future this spring. Stay tuned!!
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