Summer is now less than two weeks away in the Quad Cities and already we are seeing a few signals that will guide us in our forecasts for the next few months.
Looking at the current soil conditions can tell you a lot about what temperature patterns will likely lie ahead in the short-term. Regionally, nearly all of the Midwest is covered with saturated soil conditions, meaning the ground is full of water and can't handle much more, easily anyway. This widespread region will also have a major impact on our temperature patterns because of the way water interacts with the sun's energy.
When you look at this situation as a whole, you are looking at what we call an "energy budget". Energy from the sun, which is quite strong this time of year, by the way, works down towards the surface of the earth where it heats up objects. Everything from your car seats, to the ground, even the air we breathe. In order to do this though, the heat needs to be absorbed by something more than just the air. We need to be able to heat the ground so it can also radiate heat back into the lower levels of the atmosphere, and thus make our temperatures rise. When you have dry soil, nearly all of the sun's energy goes towards heating up that soil and the surrounding air mass. Meanwhile, when you have saturated soil conditions, like what we have now, a good chunk of that incoming energy from the sun will go towards evaporation. The process of moving water from liquid to vapor form requires a good deal of energy. In the end, all that energy working with evaporating the water will offset the energy that could have been used to warm up the surrounding air mass, giving you cooler temperatures.
Does this mean we won't experience hot and humid days this summer? Absolutely not. We will still have days when thermometers jump beyond 90 degrees and heat index values surge into the 100s. It just simply means these periods of hot weather likely won't last nearly as long, or be severe in magnitude, especially if we can keep soil moisture content at the higher end of the scale. You should also be prepared for a wicked insect season, like mosquitoes or anything else that loves standing water, as there is plenty of that to be found in the Quad Cities!
While the pattern this week keeps the Gulf of Mexico closed for business, it does appear the threat for more heavier rainfall will return the week of June 22nd.
Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke