Cooler trend for start of summer

ESCANABA – A winter that overstayed its welcome has left many area residents wondering if summer will ever take hold. While temperatures may not reach the balmy heat many crave this summer, for those willing to wait until fall, a heat wave will come.

“It does look like the general trend is to be a little more cooler than average through August and into September,” said Todd Kluber, meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Marquette Office.

Until then, temperatures are expected to remain about 1 degree lower on average than the average temperatures that meteorologists expect during the summer months.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t see any warm days but the average will be a little cooler than average,” said Kluber.

Because the monthly average temperatures are, in fact, averages, a relatively even number of extremely cold and extremely hot days can result in average temperatures being recorded for the month. In June, temperatures stayed abnormally cool for much of the month, but a few days at or near 80 degrees brought the month’s average temperature closer to normal.

“We did have a lot of days where we were 3 to 6 degrees below average,” said Kluber, noting that June was actually half a degree warmer than typical June seasonal averages.

According to records maintained by the Escanaba Water Plant, temperatures in June ranged from as low as 62 degrees on June 14 to a balmy 80 degrees three days later on June 17.

According to Kluber, the cooler days – particularly those in the beginning of the month – may have been related to the extremely cold winter that left Lake Michigan nearly 95 percent frozen over. The ice kept water temperatures lower than they would normally be for long periods of time, which kept air temperatures cool in May and the beginning of June.

Just like the ice, that trend has been slow to melt away, but water temperatures are warming. According to satellite images used by the National Weather Service, surface temperatures on Lake Michigan are currently in the low 60s. A month ago surface temperatures were in the 40s.

“It’s more of a refreshment than a chill,” said Kluber of the current water temperatures.

While Kluber believes this winter’s extremely cold temperatures were an anomaly – a product of a persistent weather pattern that kept drawing cold arctic air into the region – cycles of warm and cool seasons are not uncommon.

“We went through a stretch in 2012 there for eight or nine months where we were well above average,” said Kluber, adding that this year’s cooler temperatures may be part of a normal shift in temperatures.

Temperatures are expected to shift again moving into September and October when conditions associated with El Nino are expected to hit the region. El Nino is the result of warm ocean water temperatures off the Pacific Coast of South America. The rising temperatures cause pressure changes in the air that have effects on weather patterns across the globe.

“That generally leads to warmer or more mild temperatures in (our area),” said Kluber.

The warmer than average temperatures are expected to stretch through the winter into February.

“It just seems like there’s a greater chance of more warmer than average days this winter,” said Kluber.

There is little to indicate what sort of precipitation Yoopers will see as the summer continues and fall takes hold. Kluber noted there is no indication if the coming months will be wetter or drier than average and it is difficult to make long-term predictions about storms that develop quickly and produce large quantities of precipitation.