ERCOT Sees Another Hot Summer Ahead

Outdoor thermometer | Image by J.J. Gouin/Shutterstock
Outdoor thermometer | Image by J.J. Gouin/Shutterstock

Last summer in Texas was a scorcher — the second hottest summer on record — and, according to a preliminary report by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, this summer will likely offer more of the same.

Five of the top 10 hottest Texas summers on record have occurred in the last 13 years, per the report. The hottest summer ever recorded was in 2011, followed by the summers of 2023 and 2022. This trend is creating a “new normal” for summer heat in Texas.

The current El Niño event that has been in place over the past year appears to be transitioning into a La Niña event, which will likely mean less rainfall in Texas during the summer. Such conditions will likely lead to drought in some portions of the state. The lack of rainfall will, in turn, add to the summer heat.

El Niño is a naturally occurring climate pattern caused by periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The average sea surface temperatures across the globe are currently the warmest on record, according to the ERCOT report.

La Niña comprises the opposite phenomenon when sea temperatures are cooler than average. Both El Niño and La Niña significantly affect the planet’s weather patterns.

Although hot summers are typically preceded by dry conditions in springtime, that was not the case last year. Spring 2023 was a rainy one and was followed by a sweltering summer. Spring 2024 has also been quite rainy, and the summer high temperatures are expected to be similar to last year. The Dallas-Fort Worth area recorded 6.57 inches of rainfall in April, more than twice the mean average for the month.

The weather forecast is a subject of keen interest for ERCOT, as it affects the supply and demand of electricity on the state’s grid. High summer temperatures lead to increased demand for electricity as Texans crank up the air conditioning to keep their homes and businesses cool.

Last summer, 10 peak demand records were set for energy consumption, according to ERCOT.

The agency is also keeping an eye on the potential for severe storms during hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30. The preliminary forecast projects high confidence in more total storms in the Atlantic Basin than the 30-year normal. The forecast predicts 18-22+ named storms, 7-12 hurricanes, 3-6 major hurricanes, and a better-than-average chance for landfall in Texas during 2024.

ERCOT summarized its preliminary weather report by stating that “2024 could easily bring another top 10 hottest-summer to Texas.”

“Significant rainfall is needed over the next several months to limit summer temperature extremes,” the agency noted.

Texas could receive some needed precipitation this summer, but some of it may come in the form of a hurricane, as the “Gulf of Mexico is aligned for an active season.”

The finalized forecast will be available by June 1 on the ERCOT website.

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