Sep
11
2009

Warm winter, cool summer?

Summertime, and the livin' is easy: Keeping cool this past summer was easier than expected.
Summertime, and the livin' is easy: Keeping cool this past summer was easier than expected.Courtesy tree & j hensdill

Well, summer is officially over. The Weather Service switched to fall on September 1. The rest of the country likes to wait until the day after Labor Day. (The folks who hold out for the equinox are delusional, and best ignored.) So, it's time to update our on-going study comparing summer temperatures to winter temperatures.

For those of you just joining us, last February Buzz blogger extraordinaire Candace noted that the winter of 2008-2009 had been unusually warm. She asked if this meant the following summer would also be warm.

Well, I went to the website of the National Space Science and Technology Center, which very conveniently records the temperature for each month going back to December 1978. I crunched the numbers and found that, yes, there was a connection. Though summer temps fluctuate year-to-year, about half of that fluctuation can be tied to changes in winter temps.

Armed with this information, we anxiously awaited the temperature record from summer 2009. The results are in, and...

...well, this was obviously part of the other half. The winter of 2008-2009 was the 4th warmest in the recording period. The summer of 2009, however, was dead smack in the middle -- 16th out of 31. So disparate were these results that they actually brought down the average for the entire study period: the impact of winter temps on summer temps is now down to just 45%.

Still, for something as complicated as weather, that's a huge impact. So, while the winter-summer connection can't predict what will happen in any given year, over the long run it does still hold true.

Tune in next year for another exciting update!

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I wonder how/if the fact that it's an El Niño year affects the correlation. Maybe that's part of why this year messed up your stats. (Admittedly, this suggestion is based mostly on my tendency to blame any weather that pleases/displeases/confuses me on El Niño.)

Also... Equinox growl growl you don't know what you're talking about gribble grabble still summer, etc etc.

posted on Fri, 09/11/2009 - 11:58am

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