Forecast for this summer still too close to call, experts say

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and she doesn’t seem to be sharing her thoughts on this summer’s weather, at least not yet.

Ken Batty, meteorologist with the Charleston, W.Va., office of the National Weather Service, said at this time, indications from the Climate Prediction Center show no strong indicators if summer 2006 will be wet or dry, hot or mild.

“We have equal chances,” Batty said. “There are no strong indicators for the mid-Ohio valley forecasting a hotter or cooler summer. And that goes for precipitation as well. There are no strong indicators either way.”

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Whatever she decides to throw at us, Batty said it is not likely that this year’s weather will be more unpleasant than last summer. Last June, temperatures at the Tri-State soared to 90 degrees or hotter 12 days during June, 16 during July and 19 during August.

“If you survived last summer with its heat and humidity, then you should be able to survive this summer,” Batty said. “It’s hard to top last summer in so far as heat and humidity. It was the fourth hottest summer on record in Huntington. It was much warmer than normal. The average temperature for the three months was 78 degrees. Normal temperatures are right around 73.5 degrees, so that’s about four and a half degrees above normal. That’s quite a bit for a three-month average temperature.”

Summer 2005 was also started out on a dry note, with below-normal rainfall for both June and July, with only one and a half inches falling in June.

Right now, Batty said, surface water in creeks is running below normal. That may change though. Forecasts for the rest of the week show temperatures turning cooler with showers on the way. That pattern may continue into early next week.

One of the things Batty pointed out is that summer precipitation can vary widely throughout the Tri-State, even within the borders of a single county.

Last year’s dry, hot weather was a departure from previous years when the rainfall was above normal. Matt Capper, technician with the Lawrence Soil and Water Conservation District, said those wetter springs often kept people out of the fields this time of years. This year, he said Lawrence County farmers seem to be a bit more hopeful that the weather will cooperate with the spring planting season and the summer growing season.

“A lot more people seem to be seeding this year,” Capper said. “This is compared to last year and even the last few years. More people are asking for the no- till drills. We have two of those and we also rent out two no-till corn planters.”

The local forecast calls for a chance of showers today with thunderstorms also possible afternoon. The expected high temperature will be near 78. This evening expect showers and thunderstorms with a low around 56. The chance of precipitation is 70 percent.

On Thursday there is a chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly afternoon. The expected high will be near 69. The chance of precipitation is 40 percent. On Friday, there is a 40 percent chance of showers with a high only near 60.