Ask a Climatologist: Sizing up Alaska’s summer

(Graphic courtesy of NOAA)

Summer in Alaska is full of endless daylight, a few mosquitoes and also some pretty amazing or terrible weather, depending on the year. So how are forecasters sizing up the long term outlook for June, July and August?

For an answer to that question, we turned to Brian Brettschneider for our segment, Ask a Climatolgoist.

He said it looks like summer will be warmer than normal for most of the state.

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Interview Transcript:

Brian: If you look at the long range outlooks put out by NOAA or the long range outlooks put out by computer ensembles, everything in Alaska is looking warm. Really everything everywhere is looking warm and that includes Alaska.

Annie: Just a little bit warm or a lot warm?

Brian: They don’t really project what the temperatures will be, but they project the likelihood of being above normal. So we’re not in the highest category, but we’re in a strong category of higher probabilities of having above normal temperatures. That being said, we’re starting off at a warm baseline. Globally the temperature is higher than normal. And so without factoring anything else into consideration, because we’re already starting at a high baseline, we’re already starting off in the above normal category. So if it ends up being cloudier or wetter than normal, then that might push us back down in the normal category, but if it’s sunnier and higher pressure, that might shoot us up into way above normal.

Annie: What about rain?

Brian: Rain and precipitation is always much more difficult to project months in advance. The signals are quite a bit weaker than they are for temperatures. That being said, all of Alaska is currently painted in the normal to maybe a slight increase in a probability for above normal precipitation. So again that’s not something to hang a hat on, but that’s what the outlook is showing at the moment.

Annie: How accurate have these long term outlooks become?

Brian: Well they’re better for sure and for temperatures, they’re pretty good. Sometimes there are misses, but for temperatures they are pretty good for these seasonal outlooks. Precipitation, not so much. They’re not bad but the climate signals are not very strong for precipitation more than a few weeks in advance.