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Published: Tuesday, 6/5/2001

Hot-starting May fades into dripping torture of June's cool

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's less than three weeks until the official start of summer, but it feels more like fall is just around the corner.

Skies are gray every day, the temperature seems chilly perpetually, and outdoor fun on the weekends has been curtailed by what seems like almost constant rain.

Toledo's recent weather pattern began on May 22, “and we've been seeing crummy weather ever since,” confirmed Scott Homan, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting service in State College, Pa.

Don't expect any summer-like conditions any time soon, Mr. Homan warned. Forecasts indicate that below-average conditions will persist through June 14, he said, “and that's as far as the [forecast] models go out.”

The news isn't all bad - predictions for Friday and Saturday indicate it will be fairly sunny, the meteorologist said. But all indications are that it will continue to be cool, he said, with highs only reaching 70.

Under normal conditions, local daily high temperatures would be averaging in the upper 70s by now, with 80-plus highs a regular occurrence.

And in early May, with four straight 80-plus days to kick off the month, it seemed like summer might be getting an early start. The entire month was 2.8 degrees warmer than normal, thanks to the early warm spell.

But the mercury hasn't topped 80 at Toledo Express Airport since May 10. During the last two weeks, the temperature has reached 70 only once, and has averaged below normal every day.

Those high temperatures in the 60s - and even 50s - that Toledoans have endured are what residents of Sydney, Australia, might consider normal for this time of year - but for them it's winter, not summer, that is just a few weeks away. And yesterday's high of 62 degrees was three degrees colder than the normal 24-hour average temperature for the date.

Not only has it been cool, it's been damp. The 5.1 inches of rain that the National Weather Service measured at the airport last month was 2.2 inches above normal. And while May's heaviest sustained rain fell on the 15th and 16th, before yesterday there had been only two days since the 20th without at least a trace of precipitation at the airport - May 30 and Sunday.

Blame it all on the jet stream - the high-speed wind pattern thousands of feet up in the atmosphere that steers storms across the continent.

For two weeks, that steering wind has dipped south of the Ohio Valley, allowing cooler air to spill south from Canada and letting rainmakers linger over the Great Lakes for days.

The air masses just aren't moving very much, Mr. Homan said. Last week, some computer models showed a warm-up in the eastern United States this week - but they turned out to be wrong.

A warm-up can't happen too soon for many of the regulars at the Ottawa Park golf course, said attendant Bailey Grigsby, who estimated business is off as much as 25 percent.

“There were a few days there where cemeteries had more business than we do,” Mr. Grigsby said. The damp chill is hardest on the course's senior citizens, he said, but it's also tough on greens keepers because the conditions help spread harmful fungi.

Matt Adamski, a pro shop clerk at the Whiteford Valley complex, said golfers there have had to be opportunistic.

“They just come on out whenever it's not raining,” he said.

Mr. Homan said there is no obvious reason for the current weather pattern in the lower Great Lakes: no El Ni o, no La Ni a. But the patterns do seem to be changing at roughly 40-day intervals, he said, which suggests that by mid-month, the conditions in the Toledo area should begin to moderate.

If you have to have warmer weather now, Mr. Homan said, the best place to go is the Southwest, where it's sunny and very hot, with temperatures soaring past 100 daily in the deserts of Arizona and southern California. It's warmer in the southern Great Plains and Gulf Coast states, too, he said, but in those regions it's stormy as well.



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