by Tom Ross, Meteorologist
It seems like the cool mornings of early May moderated somewhat and allowed the planting of warm-season plants and vegetables last month. The old rule of thumb of planting tomatoes around Mother’s day seems to work for me.
Turning to our weather, we are a bit on the dry side this spring with fewer showers and thunderstorms than usual, at least through mid-May. We have had more of a west-to-northwest flow of air, which inhibits the influx of warm and humid air from the south and southeast. This pattern should break down a bit more over the next few months and we should get into our more typical pattern of scattered showers and thunderstorms. We have gotten a few doses of rain right when we needed it so far — hopefully this will hold as we make our way through the summer.
June on average has high temperatures in the low 80s with an average low temperature within a few degrees of 60. June, July and August comprise our “Meteorological Summer,” which is the warmest three-month period on average during a given year. We should also notice an increase in the dew point temperature, which is the measure we use to denote how muggy or uncomfortable it feels outside. In the summer, a dew point of 70 or higher usually has one trying various ways of cooling off.
In terms of ocean water temperatures, warm waters in parts of the tropical Pacific during our current El Niño have started to cool off a bit and turn into a La Niña pattern by mid-summer. How this will play out in relation to Atlantic hurricanes we will have to wait and see. However, as I usually say, it really doesn’t matter how many hurricanes actually form. As stated in previous months, the average number of tropical storms or hurricanes that form each year in the Atlantic Ocean basin is about 12, of which 6 become hurricanes. The all important factor is — are they going to hit the US, and if so, where? While we can have a fairly decent forecast to predict the number of named storms, predicting track and intensity is still a short-range forecast activity.
This month’s weather safety feature deals with the differences between a watch and a warning issued for severe weather by the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Tom Ross managed NOAA’s Climate Database Modernization Program and was involved in educational and community outreach during his 25-year career at the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in Asheville. He was a senior weather forecaster at Accu Weather in Pennsylvania. Tom currently teaches classes on weather and climate at various venues in Western North Carolina.