Environment & Science

How the dry spring will lead to a hotter summer

On the left is a map showing the average temperature probability for the month of May. The image on the right shows the total precipitation probability.
On the left is a map showing the average temperature probability for the month of May. The image on the right shows the total precipitation probability.
NOAA

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On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced its forecast for the first half of summer.

As you might have guessed, NOAA calls for bone dry conditions in Southern California.  

It’s also expected to be hotter, says Jon Gottschalck with the Climate Prediction Center.

That’s because normally, moisture in the soil acts as a natural air conditioner. As the sun evaporates that moisture, it releases water vapor that cools things down..

But he points out, right now we’re short on soil moisture. That means the sun's rays will just heat up the soil and consequently heat the ground above as well.

“There is a tendency for above normal temperatures in subsequent seasons because of that,” Gottschalck told KPCC.

California has already been unusually warm as of late.

NOAA says that as much as half of the state's snowpack levels melted due to warm temperatures over the last week.

"So conditions are looking very dismal as we move into the spring and summer there," NOAA climate scientist Jake Crouch said.

There is some chance relief is in sight for the winter. NOAA is predicting a 65% chance of an El Niño later this year which could mean a wet winter.

But NOAA meteorologists are unable to say just how strong that El Niño will be if it does occur. A strong El Niño is linked with heavy rains in Southern California while a weak El Niño tends to drive weather up the coast to Northern California.