Ithaca, N.Y. — Though heavy rains have proved damaging on several occasions, the local weather this summer has been — in a word — wonderful.

To help us understand our beautiful summer days, we turned to our meteorologist friends over at Cornell Weather. The following is written by Zachary Labe, a Cornell student majoring in atmospheric sciences.

Click on the question to get your answer.

1 – What is up with this great summer weather?
2 – Is this normal?
3 – What can we expect moving into late summer and early fall?

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1 — What is up with this great summer weather?

Unless you have been hiding indoors, you have realized that this summer’s weather has been ideal for spending time hiking or having a picnic. Cooler temperatures and occasional rainfall have been commonplace throughout the Ithaca area during the past few months. In fact, according to the official Ithaca weather station near Game Farm Road, we have yet to reach 90 degrees this year.

A series of cold fronts has moved through Central New York allowing cooler air from Canada to filter in. This is due to the position of the jet stream in which a large ridge of high pressure has caused hot and dry conditions over the western United States, while a dip in the jet stream (trough) allowed a series of storm systems to rotate through the eastern United States in addition to cooler temperatures.

2 — Is this normal?

According to the Glossary of Meteorology by the American Meteorological Society, climate is “characterized in terms of suitable averages of the climate system over periods of a month or more, taking into consideration the variability in time of these averaged quantities.” Essentially, the climate of Ithaca is defined by the average of previous weather conditions and its extremes. There really is not a normal weather year.

The Northeast Regional Climate Center, located at Cornell University, reports this summer “has been a bit cool and wet.” Rainfall amounts were highest in the month of June when 5.14” fell over the duration of the month making June 2014 the 20th wettest in Ithaca’s recorded weather history. Temperatures over the month of June and July averaged approximately 0.4 degrees cooler than normal. As of August 12, the month of August is running 1.0 degree below normal. Rainfall has also been high courtesy of several heavy precipitation events, including the 2.14 inches of rain that fell on August 4th causing flash flooding across the Finger Lakes.

Here are a few mores statistics and records courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center for the Ithaca, NY area:
— June ave. temperature 65.1, normal is 64.6 (+0.5)
— July ave. temperature 67.8, 23rd coolest, normal is 68.8 (-1.0)
— June/July ave. temperature 66.4, normal is 66.8 (-0.4)

3 — What can we expect moving into late summer and early fall?

Over the shorter term, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 33-40% probability of above normal temperatures during the next 8-14 days along with the possibility for slightly wetter than normal conditions. However, for its one and three month outlooks there are equal chances of average, above, or below normal temperatures.

Forecasting the weather beyond several days is very difficult and requires meteorologists to look at large scale weather patterns across the entire Earth. For instance, the National Weather Service is currently predicting a 65% chance of an El Nino forming near the start of winter. An El Nino is associated with warmer than normal temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean and often impacts weather patterns across the United States.

For now, the forecast for the upcoming week looks cooler than normal as high temperatures hover in the lower 70s and overnight lows drop into the lower 50s. The next best chance of substantial rain will occur Sunday.

For more information…
Ithaca Climate Records at the Northeast Regional Climate Center:

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center:

Cornell Weather:

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.