I am frequently asked “what happened to the winters we USED to have?”, “where is all the snow”, “are we ever going to get a BIG storm?” etc. These are good questions and important ones. The atmosphere is extremely complicated and SIMPLE answers are often hard to come by.

I have spent a considerable amount of time this winter debunking the myth that winters were much colder and snowier in the 70s and 80s. They simply were not…in fact the 2010s have been the SNOWIEST decade (so far) since at least the 1960s. We also had back-to-back harsh winters, the likes we have not seen since the late 70s, just 2 and 3 years ago. Our memories can be quite short (on any number of subjects!) and weather is no exception.

The maps tell the story: here are the temperatures (compared to average) through February 13 in 2014: conus_ytd_t2avg_anom_2014.png

2015: conus_ytd_t2avg_anom_2015.png

And this year: conus_ytd_t2avg_anom_2017.png

The contrast is pretty remarkable.

One of the hallmarks of this winter season (and last year too) has been the lack of SUSTAINED cold. It gets cold for a couple or few days, but then it just gets mild again.


There really has just been one cold “snap” this season, early in January and it lasted 4 days. Notice all the cold snaps in the winters of 2013-2014 and 2014-2015.


The reasons for the balmy winter weather are complicated. It’s easy to just be flippant and say “GLOBAL WARMING!!!!!”. I hear that a lot. The climate IS changing, but attributing individual weather events and even warm spells on the scale of months directly to climate change is unwise.

The simplest explanation for our mild winter lies over the Pacific ocean. A very strong jet stream, perhaps being aided by something called the Quasi-biennial oscillation (which has been record strong lately) has been unrelenting in recent months. The result has been a VERY wet winter in California and the West Coast. pacjet.png

Another result? Mild air floods the eastern 2/3 of the country. This Pacific jet acts as a real barrier for arctic air trying to come south in eastern North America. This “top down” view, looking over the North Pole, shows the west-to-east upper-air flow over North America. The cold stays “locked up” near the pole and/or gets shoved into Asia. poledown.png


I see very few signs that this overall pattern will change for the rest of the season. Will it snow? Yes. Will it get cold occasionally? Yes. Like….in less than 24 hours! Wind chills by Thursday will be mainly in the single digits and teens: chillsthursam

There can be a couple of inches of snow in our northern viewing area, especially in Mercer County, Wednesday into Thursday. hiresp_snow_cleveland_61.png

But that’s gonna be it for snow for a while. A VERY balmy pattern will take over this weekend into next week. A high near 60 can occur for at least a few days: KYNG_2017021400_eps_min_max_15.png

The long-range modeling shows the same kind of pattern that we have been in all winter. Warm overall with brief periods of cold. The latest European model temperatures for the next month: eps_t2m_768h_conus_129.png

The American CFS model for March (average of last 14 runs): cfs_anom_t2m_noram_201703_56.png

Looks familiar.

Summer 2016 Review!

As you may know, meteorologists like to look at the seasons a little differently than others. Since the “astronomical” seasons do not start and end on the same dates every year, we use “meteorological” seasons for the purpose of tidy record-keeping. There is also climatology to consider; the meteorological seasons line up nicely with the 3 hottest/coolest months of the year. So, “meteorological summer” is June, July and August.

Under that premise, let’s do a quick review of summer 2016.

You may remember that we issued a summer forecast around Memorial Day. Have a look at it here.  

That forecast called for the warmest summer since 2012, with a near-average amount of 90-degree days. It worked out pretty well! We are at 6 90+ days so far and I think there is a chance we squeeze out 1 or 2 more next week.

Summer forecast:

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Here’s what happened:

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Not bad. The core of the warmth was centered over our region and not New England but overall I would give this forecast, not only for us but the whole lower 48, an A-/B+.

How did 2016 compare to recent history? It ended up being our hottest since 1995:

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

August was particularly hot….the 6th warmest on record in Youngstown.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

On the precipitation-side, the summer of 2016 is an interesting one as well. Of course most had brown lawns for a good chunk of the season. The season will have a reputation as a dry one. Buttttt, the “official” numbers will tell a different story. Would you believe that summer 2016 will go in the record books as WETTER than average in Youngstown?? The airport (where the official observations are) logged a little over 13″ of rain, compared to the historical average, roughly 11.5″. It was our 5th consecutive wetter-than-average summer.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

But the airport was practically the wettest spot in our viewing area. Look at the rain anomalies and notice how the airport location stands out. Other areas were MUCH drier.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

We did make up some ground in August, especially north of 224.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

So Meteorological Fall is here. A transitional season in which we lose daylight rapidly and average high (and low) temperatures plummet quickly, especially during the second half of the season.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

We are expecting a warmer-than-average September. The season as a whole? Mild and probably on the dry side.



The calendar still says May but the current pattern is much more mid-summer like! Memorial Day weekend is often considered the “unofficial” start to summer and “Meteorological Summer” is just a few days away from starting (June 1) so in that spirit, here’s what we expect for the summer of 2016.


The last 3 summer seasons have been very “uninteresting” temperature wise with June/July/August ending up near average in 2013, 2014 and 2015. 2014 was the coolest season of that stretch. These more typical summers were preceded by a few hot summers in a row…especially 2010 and 2012.

A look at the last 30 meteorological summers in Youngstown:


This year is likely to be warmer than the last 3. Perhaps not quite as warm as 2010/2011/2012 but still above average. And we will not be alone. Much of the country should have a warm to hot summer (compared to average, of course).

Summer 2016 Temp Forecast

Does this mean a LOT of 95 degree days with stifling humidity? No, not necessarily. But I DO think there will be more 90+ days than the last few years. 2012 was ridiculous and I don’t expect a repeat of that.

Overall, I suspect we will be close to our average of 8-9 90+ days.

90 Degree Days.png


Seasonal precipitation forecasts are always tricky, especially in the warm season when some places can get a lot more rain that others, depending on where soaking thunderstorms decide to go. Last summer was very wet (especially in June) in Trumbull County while Columbiana County was not very wet.

Nothing in the data shows this season being abnormally wet or dry overall. There will surely be some exceptions, however.

Summer 2016 Precip Forecast

IF we were to have a dry summer, especially early, western PA could fall into an official drought as that region has been drier than eastern Ohio so far this year.



Expect higher energy bills this season compared to the last few summers.

There will likely be more days with poor air quality compared to the last few years.


Thanks for reading!



(Click images to enlarge)

September is in the books and it was the 10th warmest September on record in Youngstown and the warmest in 54 years!


How was our September forecast, made on September 1? Good locally and not as good in other parts of the country (to be fair, we don’t look at other parts of the country as much as the Valley!)

Temperature forecast and what actually happened:




It was certainly drier than we expected locally, although the rain at the end of the month made up some of the deficit.


We are expecting October to be a more “typical” month in both the temperature and precipitation departments. That said, if the month ends up drier than average it would not be shocking.


October is a month in which our averages drop very quickly. By the end of the month, average highs are in the mid 50s and lows are in the 30s:


We typically see our first frost and freeze during October. Average date of the first freeze is in the middle of the month.


It can and certainly HAS snowed in October! It happened as recently as 2 years ago. Other years with measurable snow (more than a trace):


When is the earliest that we have picked up our first inch of snow? Here’s the list of earliest dates:


Of course, not only is October a month in which is cools off quickly, it is also a month in which the amount of daylight changes significantly as well. We lose an hour and 18 minutes of daylight this month.


Thanks for reading!


(Click images to enlarge)

As you may know, “meteorological summer” is considered to be the 3 warmest months of the year, June, July and August. The “astronomical” seasons are the ones that are more frequently used and of course are based on the Earth’s orbit around the Sun. Astronomical Autumn begins on September 23. But since this is a meteorology blog….”summer” is now over and we can review how it went.

First, the raw numbers. Temperature-wise, this was a pretty typical summer! As you can see, we finished 0.1 degrees above average:


The hottest temperature was 91 degrees, which is not all that high but remember in 2014 we did not have ANY 90 degree days. It is possible that the temperature gets near that 91 degree mark over the next few days but I doubt it is exceeded.

Looking across the country, it was a cool summer for the Midwest and Plains states:


A warm season for the Northwest and much of the Southeast.

RAIN was really this story this summer. June was EXCEPTIONALLY wet with a little over 9 inches of rain at the airport (3rd wettest June on record). Some rain gauges showed over 12 inches. The pattern flipped dramatically in July and it has been VERY dry ever since.

For the summer, rainfall totals were above average in most of the area and near average in some spots:


But take away June and it is a whole different story! Here’s July and August:


That wet June really skews the numbers. Summer 2015 was actually the 2nd wettest season in the last 20 years….but you would not know it by all the brown lawns now!


So, “abnormally dry” conditions are present across the Valley as we start Fall.



For “Meteorological Fall” (September, October, November), we are expecting a pretty easy-going season. The forecast from the Climate Prediction Center has “equal chances” of a cooler than average and warmer than average season:


Meanwhile, the models are showing a warm season for the region and I tend to agree with the models’ assessment.


There of course will be plenty of chilly days but the 3 months as a whole should shake out to be warmer than average.

In the rain department, the CPC again shows “equal chances”:


The climate models do not have a strong signal either way.


So the 3-month period is likely to be fairly typical as far as rain amounts.


Our Winter outlook will be released on TV and online at the end of October or perhaps the first week of November. I will continue to preview the forecast from time to time on my Weather For Weather Geeks video over the next couple of months as new information becomes available.

Thanks for reading!