May 13, 2024 - News

ERCOT forecaster predicts hot summer

Animated illustration of a weather map with suns, warm front symbols and changing background colors.

Slather on the sunscreen and turn on the fans. Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Go ahead and turn on Santana and Rob Thomas because this summer is likely going to be a hot one.

Why it matters: Texas continues to set heat records, straining the state's power grid.

  • Five of the state's 10 hottest summers have been recorded since 2011, setting a new standard for what's normal.

State of play: Many of the factors that contributed to the past two years of record-breaking summer heat are still in place, hinting at another above-average summer, according to a preliminary report from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state's power grid operator.

  • Ocean temperatures are still warmer than normal, and recent rains are expected to taper off, which could make it extra warm.

The big picture: The ongoing El Niño event is transitioning into La Niña, which will likely bring drought conditions back to parts of Texas, ushering in more summer heat.

  • "As Texas keeps having many more above normal temperature seasons, it keeps raising the bar for what is 'normal,'" writes Chris Coleman, ERCOT's supervisor of operational forecasting.

Flashback: Last year, ERCOT set 10 peak demand records and asked Texans to conserve energy eight days in August during a searing heat wave — but never had to resort to rolling blackouts.

By the numbers: April saw some extreme swings between hot and cold. April 17 reached a high of 88 in Dallas-Fort Worth, nearly 14 degrees above average, per the National Weather Service.

  • Just three days later, the high was 63 — 11 degrees colder than average.
  • Overall, April's average temperature was 3 degrees above normal.

Yes, but: April also saw more rain than typical, with nearly 6.5 inches of precipitation recorded, above the average of 3.2 inches.

The intrigue: A dry spring typically indicates a hot summer. But last year's record heat was preceded by a rainy spring, much like this year's spring.

  • The other top three hottest summers — 1998, 2011 and 2022 — were preceded by April-June periods that were among the top 10 driest on record.

Not-so-fun fact: North Texas has already matched a record set in 2011, the hottest Texas summer on record and the year with the most 100-degree days in Dallas-Fort Worth.

  • February had one of the top three hottest days for that month on record. And, one day saw a very warm low of 66, matching a daily record set in 2011.

What's next: The full ERCOT summer forecast will be released in June.


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