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Summer, Too Much of a Good Thing?

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Around these parts, we can still have beautiful weather well into September and October. But Labor Day weekend is traditionally the end of the summer season. For some Rochesterians it is a sad reality when seeing diminishing amounts of sunshine and the advent of cooler temperatures. For meteorologists, it is a time to evaluate the overall summer season. And from a meteorological perspective, it is amazing how one summer season can be so different when compared to another, especially when it is 2016 and 2017. I always remember what Mark Twain once said, “climate is what we expect, but weather is what we get.”

We know summers can vary significantly, but when you look at the numbers, it is astounding the difference between 2016 and 2017. If you compare the meteorological summer which is June, July and August it is truly the tale of two seasons. The summer of 2016 was pushing us closer and closer to an extreme drought with only slightly more than 6 inches of rainfall at the Rochester Airport. That was just 80 percent of normal. However, 2017 measured almost twice as much rain with 11 inches of precipitation. That is a lofty 108 percent of normal. And when factoring in the tremendous amount of rainfall during the spring it was no surprise that Lake Ontario rose to record flood levels.

Usually the lack of moisture in a given summer season goes hand and hand with excessive heat. The summer of 2016 had 24 days of 90° or higher with a maximum temperature of 96° on August 12th. However, when comparing this summer season, we did not reach a single day of 90° or above (we did have two 90° days in the month of May). So, it really comes down to too much of a good thing and when it is excessive, we know the public response can be spirited! Naturally, we need the sunshine and we need the rain and thankfully, we can always count on this variety in Western New York.

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