(KXAN) — As a record-hot May shows no signs of abating this week, many Central Texans are wondering the same thing: “What does this mean for the coming summer?”
As part of our week-long Summer Outlook series, Chief Meteorologist David Yeomans examines what this early summer heat means for the next few months.
More on KXAN’s Summer Outlook series
“It’s been really hot,” Ali Perkins said as she wrapped up her outdoor workout on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail in downtown Austin. “It’s been really humid and I think it’s taking a toll on a lot of us.”
“We’re very hot, and getting uncomfortable,” walker Kathy O’Neill said from underneath the shade of her hat.
“The key is always Barton Springs,” jogger Pat Lapenna said. “You jump in that ice-cold water and you’re good.”
“We did plant a garden in the backyard, and it was supposed to have some tomatoes and some other vegetables,” Kim Jones said. “It’s already completely drying up.”
This record-hot, very dry first half of May comes thanks to a very unusual weather pattern for this time of year. Typically in May, the jet stream brings storm after storm to Texas — leading to bouts of severe weather, heavy rain and flash flooding. May is on average our wettest month of the year with over five inches of rain expected in the Austin area.
But this May, the storm track has been much farther north, with the ridge of high pressure we typically see in July and August building early.
Is there a correlation between a hot, dry May and a hot, dry summer?
Our research showed that a hot May does not guarantee a hot summer, but two of Austin’s hottest May months on record did precede two of Austin’s hottest summers.
Hot May months have preceded hotter summers overall, with summertime temperatures averaging 0.7°F above what is typical during June, July and August. While this seems like a small margin, Austin’s average high temperature during the hottest few weeks of summer is 99°. Increasing it by just a small amount makes triple-digit heat much more likely.
As far as rain goes, a dry May also preceded dry summers with summer rainfall averaging 1.95″ below normal.
This pessimistic outlook has Central Texans hoping for a change.
“I hope it rains a little bit in May,” Lapenna said. “From what I hear, if it rains a little bit in May, it’s a cooler summer.”
“Rain,” Jones said. “Lots of rain.”
“A cold front,” walker Mariola Rawie said. “From Alaska.”
“Rain,” O’Neill said. “Cold front and rain would be amazing.”
While looking back at weather patterns from past years can give us clues about this summer’s weather, many more factors than just a hot month of May will shape this summer’s weather.
As our week-long First Warning Weather ‘Summer Outlook’ continues Wednesday, we will dive into what the third year of La Niña conditions may mean this summer.