With Labor Day weekend behind us and meteorological fall now underway, it’s worth a look back at the summer of 2016, which featured drought and an abundance of sunshine. Starting on Memorial Day weekend and ending on Labor Day, there are 14 weekends to enjoy summer. This year, it seemed like nearly all of those weekends had at least some sunshine.

As I started to dig into the data, I was surprised at several things. Obviously we are in a drought, so the lack of total rainfall for the summer wasn’t a shock. During meteorological summer Portland received only 8.02 inches of rainfall or about 2.5 inches less than typically expected. Another way to think about the summer rain is this: In a period of about three months Maine got about two to three week’s worth of rainfall. That’s dry, but not nearly record territory.

The number of days with rain was low this summer

The number of days with rain was low this summer.

What is interesting, however, is that out of those 14 summer weekends, there was measurable rainfall during part of seven of them. Of course the rain that fell was so light and brief we really never thought of any of the weekends as being rainy besides July 8-10, when it remained cloudy with some light rain on and off throughout the weekend. Sunday June 5 brought the heaviest rainfall of the summer to the Jetport with more than 2 inches.

There were 28 days between June 1 and August 31 when at least some rain fell (see chart above). This is about the same number of rainy days we’ve seen since 2014, when the dry pattern really began to set up. It’s the least number of precipitation days since 2010 when only 27 days of the summer saw measurable rainfall.

This was one of the hottest summers on record in Portland, Maine

Meteorological Summer Was Hot

While the lack of rain wasn’t a record or even close, this was a very hot summer. The average temperature in Portland (and we can assume in other communities around southern Maine) was the highest since 2010 and the warmest since records started being kept at the Jetport in 1941. However, if you count the records from before that move it was the fourth warmest.

Now that fall is here it’s time for hikes in the woods, apple picking, football and other cooler weather activities. Of course all of these are easier done with sunny dry weather, so will this pattern continue? It’s impossible for me to say if the next 12 weekends – which take us to Thanksgiving – are going to be dry. However, September and October often bring some of the longest stretches of dry weather of the entire year. If we don’t get a tropical system, we often need to wait until the wetter month of November before we see day-long rain storms.

Weather systems will be on the move over the next 10 days with no prolonged heat or wet weather

Weather systems will be on the move over the next 10 days with no prolonged heat or wet weather.

The slow dry pattern of summer is showing signs of transition with more frequent chances of rain showers in the coming three weeks. Presently, I don’t see a pattern that becomes blocked to bring us days of rain, rather just a day of showers followed by more dry weather.

What is quite clear is temperatures will likely average above normal through the rest of this month and into October. Keep the beach gear handy, you’ll still be able to use it.

There is a high liklihood September will average above normal temperatures even with a few days of cool air ahead.

There is a high liklihood September will average above normal temperatures even with a few days of cool air ahead.