Ask Josh: Cooler Than Average Summer

Why has it been so cool and wet this spring and summer of 2009 and could this be a sign of what may happen during the upcoming winter season? Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick explains.

Here we are entering the so called dog days of summer which is supposed to be the hottest time of the entire year.  But as we know, sometimes Mother Nature doesn't go by a calendar.  Recently it's felt more like October than July.  This spring and summer of 2009 so far has been known for stormy, rainy days and much cooler than average temperatures.  Jane Walker from Spencer, West Virginia asks: "why has it been so cool and wet this spring and summer?" 


Well Jane, that's a pretty simple question.  It all has to do with the jet stream.  The jet stream is the river of air in the upper atmosphere which steers storm systems to where they're going and also separates the cool and hot air.  In a typical summer, the jet stream is located far to the north in Canada.  Keeping the storm track north along with the cooler air.  As you know, during this time of year we just get the occasional storm and can go many days without rain.  The pattern this year is completely different.  The jet stream has taken a big dip to the south.  Putting us in what's known as a trough.  When this happens, the cooler air is able to filter south from Canada and this more southern track in the jet stream allows for the unsettled weather to be with us. 


Since this spring and summer have been wetter than average causing the ground to be mostly wet, any sun we get goes into evaporating the moisture in the ground and causing clouds to form, thus lowering our temperature.  This cooler and wetter than average pattern may linger for awhile longer.  We just may go the entire month of July without hitting 90 degrees.  Which is highly unusual.  July 1996 and 2003 were cooler than average like this.  But it's not out of the question to have a hotter fall if the jet stream moves back to the north and we dry out. 


By the way El Nino is developing (warmer than average sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific) could mean a milder and wetter winter for 2009/2010?  Only time will tell if that'll happen.  Stay tuned.



Keep those great questions coming and post your comments!


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