By Brad Spakowitz

Back in mid-May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its official forecast for meteorological summer, defined as the months of June, July and August.

The prediction said summer here in Wisconsin would favor temperatures warmer than the 30-year average, with equal chances of precipitation being above, below or near normal, which pretty much covers all the bases.

So now with meteorological summer behind us, let’s look back and see exactly how it played out.

June was warm and dry
June brought the most active severe weather of the season, most of it occurring June 15 with widespread wind damage and power outages, and 13 tornados across the state – 10 of which occurred here in Eastern Wisconsin.

The month was warm, with five days reaching or exceeding 90 degrees and the monthly mean temperature coming in at 2.6 degrees above the 30-year average.

June rainfall was sparse, totaling only 2.82 inches – 1.28 inches less than normal.

Not a good way to start a summer as crops and gardens were just getting underway.

July was warm and wet
July was also warm, bringing three days at or above 90 degrees, with a month-end mean temperature 1.3 degrees above the norm.

We had another round of strong storms July 23, but not as bad as the June severe weather event.
July’s rainfall was not well spaced, nonetheless we had several good rounds of rain, totaling 5.29 inches – 1.67 inches above average – which helped revive browning lawns.

August was warm and wet
August was a relatively quiet month, and not as humid as the previous August.

Although August had no high temperatures in the 90s, the month still finished 1.9 degrees above average.

Rainfall was a bit more evenly spaced, and total rainfall measured 4.44 inches, or 1.05 inches above average.

Putting it all together
Our meteorological summer was warmer and wetter than average, but overall not too far off the 30-year norms.

The mean temperature departure from average was +1.9 degrees; Precipitation totaled 12.55 inches, a departure of +1.44 inches.

Other items of interest:
• We had eight summer days at or above 90 degrees (not counting two back in May)

• The warmest summer temperature was 96 degrees (June 21)

• The coldest summer temperature was 45 degrees (June 4)

• The greatest non-thunderstorm wind gust was 62 mph July 12

• There were 61 fair days, 23 partly cloudy, and only 8 overcast days.

Putting the statistics aside, in hindsight it seems we had some bouts of heat, some humidity, and some dry spells… but that happens just about every summer.

And with a somewhat dry start to the season, we did not have many bugs until mid-August, making the summer even more enjoyable.

Other regions were not as lucky
Record heat, especially in the Western U.S., was still making headlines into early September along with wildfires, which have now become a year-round problem as the Western remains extremely dry.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were several major excessive rainfall and flooding events this year, most notably in Southern Montana (closing Yellowstone National Park in June); the July 13 Virginia flash flood leaving over 40 unaccounted for; the July 27 Kentucky flash flooding which claimed 15 lives; plus less severe floods in Las Vegas, Death Valley and parts of Texas.

Globally, three record heat waves gripped much of Europe, the first in June, then mid-July and again in August.

France’s National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies attributes 11,000 deaths there to the summer heat.

China, a country usually somewhat tight-lipped about internal affairs, has recently disclosed they had their hottest summer on record, and that includes some individual cities’ warmest-ever readings.

The autumn outlook
NOAA’s meteorological autumn outlook (September, October, November) calls for a good chance of above average temperatures for all of Wisconsin.

There are equal chances of above or below precipitation for northern Wisconsin, with below average precipitation for roughly the southern half of the state.

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