CARIBOU, Maine — Though the exact pattern of precipitation remains uncertain, climate experts are already predicting that the trend of warming temperatures will be a mainstay throughout Aroostook County this summer.
With drought being less severe the summer of 2021 than in 2020, potato farms were more on track for a plentiful harvest. A cooler than average July — with the highest daily temperature being 84 degrees — made soil conditions far less dry for growing potatoes.
So far the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is not indicating strong chances of drought or above-average precipitation throughout Maine. If that prediction holds up, it could be good news for farmers who rely on soil conditions that are not too wet or dry.
Aroostook experienced its warmest June on record in 2021, with temperatures peaking in the low 90s before dropping into the 80s, according to the National Weather Service in Caribou.
Temperatures rose in August 2021 in Aroostook, with 17 days registering above 80 degrees and three above 90, according to NWS data. That led to June and August having temperatures of 64.9 and 69.5, above average 3.5 and 4.6 degrees, respectively.
“The big takeaway is that last summer saw above normal temperatures,” said Corey Bogal, climate scientist for NWS in Caribou. “For the past 10 summers, we have seen this trend of warming temperatures. In fact, April has been the only month where we have not seen above average temperatures.”
Summer temperatures in Aroostook should be consistent with those in the rest of the state, which are all expected to be higher than average, Bogel said.
Weather is one thing that is not affected by an area’s remoteness, and Aroostook has been susceptible to patterns of climate change that cause warmer weather, Bogel said. For instance, winters might still be cold but warming temperatures overall have led to more frequent and intense snowfall and rain.
Warmer summers have become more common largely due to warming ocean surface temperatures along the northeastern coastline, Bogel said.
“The ocean holds in a lot of energy, so when temperatures rise, that energy is released back into the atmosphere and we get this large pool of warmer weather,” Bogel said.
But trying to predict three months of precipitation is not the same as predicting daily weather patterns, Bogel said.
Currently the U.S. is experiencing La Nina, a weather pattern that causes colder water temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, which often leads to regions of the country becoming drier or wetter than normal. Like any other weather pattern, disruptions from coastal storms can easily change the jetstream and affect the precipitation Aroostook receives.
“Right now the forecast for all of Maine is looking pretty much the same. We’re not seeing strong signals of above or below average precipitation,” Bogel said. “But one or two weather events can knock that [prediction] off kilter.”