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Summer forecast in the Northwest: Trending hotter than average again

Photo: Tim Durkan Photography

Now that it appears we've cleared the hurdle of the persistent cool and showery pattern of the past several months, long range forecasts are now starting to trend toward the other end of the pendulum for the Pacific Northwest.

The latest 30- and 90-day forecasts issued by NOAA's Center for Environment Prediction are showing slightly better than average chances for overall warmer than normal condition in June -- and even better confidence that the summer will end up warmer than normal:

To quickly recap: These charts are a measure of confidence, not intensity. The darker the shades, the more confident the forecasters are in leaning a long range forecast one way or the other, although there can be some connection in that if data suggests a large anomaly in temperature or precipitation, it would coincide with higher confidence the temperatures will lean that way.

Forecasters note that while the Northwest is on the border between the lightest and second-lightest shade of higher confidence, it's been muted a bit because of our recent cold and wet winter and spring. Soil temperatures and moisture content remain good, and will help mitigate temperatures just a bit.

Still, if we were to chalk up another warmer-than-normal summer, it'd be the fourth in a row. Summers lately have been feast or famine -- toasty in 2008 and 2009, then a three year pause in 2010-2013, only to have near record -- or in 2015's case, THE record -- warmest summers.

As for precipitation forecasts - there is no signal either way whether it'd be dry or wet than usual. Last year coming off what was a record wet fall-winter-spring (only to be topped by the current year) we had a pretty dry summer. Hopefully we stay around normal.

But looks like sun fans will finally have their patience rewarded, while us rain fans will have 9 months of memories to fall back on.

What about fall and winter?

The warm forecasts remain over the Northwest on every single forecast map through the fall, winter -- and even into next year. They're still giving us a slight edge to warm due to the possibility of a weak El Nino event. The odds for El Nino have dropped from being a moderate favorite to about an even bet with neutral conditions but long range forecasters think even if we don't technically reach El Nino, we might be close enough to trend temperature lines a bit warmer than normal.

On the other hand, rainfall forecasts (not pictured) are "equal chances" for the entire year's forecast period -- as in, still no signal either way. Although if El Nino does come to pass, that tends to dry out the winter a bit. Don't worry skiers, I have new Emergency Kittens videos at the ready should precipitation start to come in short supply.

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