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Clues to Washington's summer weather...or not

Erin Hennessey
Kids and adults alike enjoy a warm day on June, 4 2011. Will there be more sunny days on the way this summer? It's tough to call.

With the first day of summer this week, it’s finally beginning to look like it outside. If you think that’s a good sign for the rest of the season, think again. There really isn’t a good way to tell how summer will turn out.

It’s doubtful many of us will have a hard time saying goodbye to this spring. Meteorologists say it’s the coldest spring since they started keeping records in the 1950s.

Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Washington, says the low temperatures aren’t surprising given the influence of La Niña. The effects of the cooling trend are about to go out the window, though:

“La Niña does not correlate with summertime weather here. So, there’s no reason to expect this summer to be worse because of the fact that we have been in La Niña earlier this year.”

He says La Niña was only partly to blame for the chilly weather, anyway. 

So, maybe there’s a more general indicator. Perhaps the atmosphere likes to balance cold winters with balmy summers.

“There’s no truth to that," Mass says. "It doesn’t work that way. In fact, that doesn’t tell us anything about the rest of the summer.”

There seem to be no real clues to what the coming months will be like. Only guesses. That’s a prediction Mass can give us:

“It looks like this summer will be a typical summer," he says. "There is no reason to expect it to be anything but a normal summer. And a normal summer is one in which June is kind of so-so, a lot of low clouds. The beginning of July is the transition. And by the time we get to middle-July, it gets nice and warm.”

And if you can’t wait that long, he says just cross the Cascades where the weather’s already heating up.

Charla joined us in January, 2010 and is excited to be back in Seattle after several years in Washington, DC, where she was a director and producer for NPR. Charla has reported from three continents and several outlets including Marketplace, San Francisco Chronicle and NPR. She has a master of journalism from University of California, Berkeley and a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Washington.
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