Ask a Climatologist: Will May gloom bring summer doom?

A double rainbow forms over Waldron Lake Park in Anchorage on May 24th. (Photo by Brian Brettschneider)

Does the gloomy May weather in Southcentral Alaska have you down? Climatologist Brian Brettscheider says not to worry — the bad weather pattern isn’t necessarily going to stick around for the rest of the summer.

And he says the May weather hasn’t been too terrible compared to normal.

Interview Transcript:

Brian: It’s really been, kind of at or slightly above normal temperature wise. And its been only a little bit above normal precipitation wise. So while it may seem wet and gray and cloudy, it really hasn’t been excessively so. Now May is generally a dry month, so we’re probably in the wettest third or so of Mays, but not an excessively wet May.

Annie: And can the weather in May tell us anything about the rest of the summer?

Brian: It would be great if it could. Unfortunately, if you look at correlations between May conditions, be it temperature or precipitation, it really doesn’t tell you a whole lot about how the summer is going to evolve. There is some correlation. If you have a warm May, generally you have a warm summer. If you have a cool May, it’s more likely you would have a cool summer, but those are fairly weak correlations. So I wouldn’t hang too much on what we’re seeing in May right now and try to extrapolate that out to the rest of the summer. And as far as precipitation, it’s really hit or miss. You can look at all the years and plot all the dots out and really there’s just nothing there to go on as far as a wet May may mean a wet or dry summer. There’s just no telling that far in advance.

Annie: So listeners shouldn’t cancel their camping plans yet for the rest of the summer?

Brian: I certainly hope not. It’s human nature to extrapolate out, ‘This is the start of the summer season and it’s like this so the rest of it is going to be like this.’ But there’s very little to go on that would allow us to make that assessment. We do have long range computer models and they’re generally showing a warmer summer and they’re generally showing near normal precipitation and those would be a better bet to go on than trying to estimate what it’s going to be like based on what we’ve seen so far this May.

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