Summer Following Strong El Niño Can Be Hot

One of the strongest El Niños ever recorded occurred this past winter.

Since reliable sea surface temperature data recording began in 1950, five strong El Niños have been logged.

For the purposes of this article, a strong El Niño is defined as one when three consecutive three-month overlapping periods in the Niño 3.4 region registered an anomaly of 1.5 degrees Celsius or greater.

The El Niño of 2015-2016 fits that definition, but the summer of 2016 is still in the future; therefore, it cannot be used for this assessment.

The five summers following strong El Niños since 1950 are 1998, 1983, 1973, 1966 and 1958.

Three of those summers were quite warm.

Most notable was the summer of 1973 – the warmest on record in 111 years of record-keeping in the Hartford area.

The period from June to August 1973 had an average temperature of 74.4 degrees, which is 3.0 degrees above average.

There were also 25 90-degree days in the summer of 1973.

The summer of 1966 ranked fifth warmest in the Hartford area, but featured the highest number of 90-degree days – a whopping 31 in a span of 92 days.

There are exceptions to the idea that warmth follows strong El Niños.

In 1997-1998 the El Niño was strong, but the summer that followed only ranked 50th warmest and was 0.3 degrees below average.

Following the strong 1957-1958 El Niño, the summer actually ranked 2nd coldest on record in the Hartford area.

The average temperature ranked 3.2 degrees below average.

Combining the warm extremes with the cold extremes, four of the five summers following strong El Niños featured notable temperature anomalies.

The Climate Prediction Center currently forecasts an above average summer for the entire nation. According to the government forecast, New England has greater than a 50 percent shot at seeing above average temperatures.

In terms of severe weather, the records are not thorough enough to analyze how post-El Niño summers shaped up since 1950.

One thing is for sure though – while the summer of 1998 didn't raise any eyebrows in terms of temperatures, it was a wild severe weather season.

To this day, the only high risk for severe weather in Connecticut occurred that May.

Dozens of tornadoes ripped across the region on May 31, 1998.

Stay with the First Alert weather team as summer nears for updated ideas on what will transpire this year.

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