The monthly updates to the long-range seasonal forecasts came out this week and I'm not sure who is cheering louder: those who like hot summers in the West or those in New England and the Midwest who are now being given above-average odds for a warm winter this year after a current "winter" that is still bringing several inches of snow in mid-April.
(In fact, Marquette, Mich. reported low temperatures below zero on Wednesday morning. Yes, April 16th!!!)
For just the 30 day May forecast, forecasts paint a moderately strong signal that the month will be warmer than average, and a fairly decent signal that it will also be drier than average.
(Key: Brown is warmer than average, blue is cooler than average on the temperature map. For rainfall, brown means drier than normal while green means higher odds of wetter than normal conditions.)
A similar story is painted for the averaged 90 day period between May and July -- warmer and drier than normal in the Pacific Northwest:
The warm signal gets even stronger as we get into the middle of the summer, with a greater than 50 percent chance of a warmer than normal summer, as opposed to a 33 percent chance of a normal summer and just 17 percent of a cooler than normal summer. (This map is for July-August-September)
As the maps progress into autumn, the Northwest drifts back toward "EC" -- equal chances of warm/cool or normal temperatures. That just means there is no signal to lean the forecasts one way or the other, although note the rest of the northern states look like they'll be spared another brutal winter like they just endured.
This is likely due to strong indications we're heading into an El Nino winter which keeps the northern half of the nation warmer and drier while makes it cooler and wetter in the south. The January-March map does give the Northwest a slightly better chance at a warm winter and I suspect as El Nino becomes more certain, so will our odds of a warmer and drier winter as that is typical of El Nino.
The forecasts do still also illustrate how incredibly fortunate Western Washington was to recover our mountain snowpack with our very snowy late February and March. A hot and dry West means an increase in wildfire danger and irrigation use and had we been going into this summer short on water supply, it could have made those challenges even more daunting.