(NEXSTAR) – This summer could be a warm one in California.
In its long-range weather outlook for June, July and August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts most U.S. states are leaning toward a hotter-than-average summer.
The national temperature map (below) is lit up in shades of orange and red. The darker the color, the higher the probability of above-normal temperatures.
California is shown as leaning toward a hotter-than-average summer, especially in the northern part of the state.
The predictions for this summer’s precipitation are more of a toss-up for California, where most of the state sees little rain during the dry season. NOAA gives the state equal chances of below-average and above-average rain.
Thanks to a particularly wet winter, the state isn’t in a dire drought situation for the time being. The latest data shows only 6% of the state experiencing drought conditions, but that number will likely creep up as we head into California’s driest months.
Even an “average” summer would amount to very little rain in practice. Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Bakersfield and Fresno typically record 0.1 inches of rain or less in August.
NOAA’s summer predictions come as meteorologists are on standby for an El Niño to start any minute. Forecasters say there’s an 80% chance the transition to El Niño takes place between May and July.
However, even if El Niño does kick in before the start of summer, it probably won’t have a big impact on how hot or rainy it is, National Weather Service meteorologist Michelle L’Heureux explains. El Niño and La Niña’s biggest impacts are typically on winter weather.
“Historically El Niño events during the summer tend to have very weak impacts over the United States,” L’Heureux said. “Another way of phrasing that is that El Niño’s impacts can often be unreliable in the summer, and not repeat from one El Niño event to the next El Niño event.”
Because the link between El Niño and summer weather isn’t strong, NOAA forecasters use other data to inform their outlook for June through August.
One consequence of El Niño we may see this summer has to do with hurricane season, which starts on June 1. El Niño can strengthen hurricane season in the central and eastern Pacific, but it tends to contribute to weaker hurricanes forming in the Atlantic basin.