Skip to Main

Northern Michigan’s Summer Outlook: Will El Niño Impact Us?

June 1 marks the first day of meteorological summer, opening the door to warmer temperature trends.

The Climate Prediction Center has published their summer outlook, giving an idea of what to expect as we head into the season. As of right now, Northern Michigan has equal chances of being above or below normal in terms of temperature and precipitation for the whole summer. The only exception is the lower portions of Central Michigan, which is leaning toward above-average trends for rainfall.

In the short term, Northern Michigan is setting up to be below normal for precipitation through June 14, and possibly the rest of the month. With the lack or moisture the region has been experiencing so far this spring, higher chances of seeing little rain would be a concern for extreme fire danger and chances of drought.


RELATED READ: Keep Smokey Bear Happy By Recognizing Fire Weather

On the other hand, our temperatures will turn from chances of being above average between June 6 and June 10 to below-average chances between June 8 and June 14. For the month of June overall, our temperatures are expected to be above average.

With that in mind, there are day-to-day differences because of constantly changing patterns in the atmosphere. These outlooks can change as the dates get closer.

Local average temperatures and precipitation amounts for June

  • Cheboygan: 72°, 0.11 inches
  • West Branch: 77°, 0.12 inches
  • Sault Ste. Marie: 72°, 0.11 inches
  • Big Rapids: 77°, 0.11 inches

What about this El Niño?

You might have heard on the news that El Niño is expected to come back this summer. The latest forecast of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation shows that water surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean are on the rise, but El Niño has not been officially declared.

You may have heard El Niño and its opposite - La Niña - are often the cause of some of our weather. But do they really impact us?

The answer is yes! El Niño is a naturally occurring phase in surface temperatures of the ocean in the eastern Pacific. Temperatures off the coast of South America near Peru are observed to fluctuate between warmer than normal, normal, and below normal.


Since it is something in the ocean, you might wonder how it influences us here. That’s because the ocean actually has a huge impact on our climate, or long-term temperature and moisture trends.

During an El Niño phase, the temperatures in the Pacific are warmer than normal, causing a change in atmospheric pressure and winds above the area. The upper air flow - or jet streams - shifts as a result.

Because the jet streams shift, so do temperatures and precipitation around the world.

During El Niño years, the polar jet stream is pushed more north, setting up Michigan to be in an area for a warmer winter, with near-normal moisture.


During the summer, there is less of a direct impact to Michigan weather, and the Northern Hemisphere as a whole, because the jet stream is weaker and farther north in the summer anyway. However, areas in the Southwest U.S. may see some variations in their monsoon.

Scientists have found that El Niño generally happens every 3-5 years. Even though the effects of El Niño in the United States have been studied a lot, each El Niño can behave differently, and what you see on the maps might be somewhat varied. It all depends on the strength of El Niño - how warm the temperatures on the surface of the ocean actually are.

As mentioned before, we’re not in an El Niño phase yet. The latest update predicts El Niño to fully form between now and July this year, and if it does, the impacts will be early fall into the winter. Each month, scientists revisit the data and develop a new forecast based on any changes.

RELATED: Stay up to date on the local weather forecast

Local Trending News