Everyone remembers 2011, either for the widespread severe weather across the country during the Spring months or for the major heatwave, drought and wildfires that plagued parts of the region. The severity of the heat and number of wildfires was greater than the four state region had seen in a very long time.
Above: This graphic was produced after the Summer of 2011. It shows the number of 100 degree days experienced at each site, consecutive 100 degree day streak and the number of record highs and high minimum lows. Also, near the bottom of the image, all time record highs for each site are displayed.
The Comparison of 2011 vs 2012: The below graphs utilize data from the Shreveport, La. Regional Airport
Monthly Average Temperature (degrees Fahrenheit)
In the above graphic, 2011(blue line) is compared to 2012(red line) with respect to average temperature. One can note that January-March of 2011 was quite a bit cooler than 2012, even cooler than normal(green line). It is only when you look at the months of April-June do you see that 2011 became quite a bit warmer than 2012. In fact, June of 2012 was nearly 5 degrees cooler than June of 2011 and so far, July 2012 has been quite a bit cooler than July 2011. (click image for larger version)
Monthly Precipitation (inches)
One major reason that 2011(blue line) was such a hot year and that wildfires were so common was that rainfall amounts were below normal(green line) for the first half of the year. These below average rainfall amounts greatly reduced the amount of water in area lakes and rivers and contributed to severe drought conditions across nearly the whole area. Unlike 2011, 2012(red line) has turned out to be a much more productive rainfall year. With above average monthly rainfall totals for nearly half the time shown above. The month of March alone, in 2012, had nearly 8 inches of rain! (click image for larger version)
It is tough to say what conditions will be seen across the area during the rest of the summer, let alone the rest of the year. Hot and humid conditions can be expected, as it is summertime in the southern United States. But, with soil moisture content high and plenty of green grass and leaves across the area, it will be difficult to achieve the same extreme temperatures as last year. Also, with El Nino conditions expected to return during the late summer months and into the fall, above average rainfall amounts and cooler then normal temperatures will be possible across the southern/southeast United States. Another possible impact on temperatures and rainfall for the rest of the year will be the Atlantic Hurricane Season. With the peak of the season still a couple of months away, tropical systems could still make their way into the area. This could lead to locally hevay rainfall in some places.