Weather and Natural Disasters

NOAA climate outlook: Hot summer for most of US

Americans will feel hotter summer this year
Americans will feel hotter summer this year

Most of the United States — including Alaska — is likely to feel summer temperatures above average this year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center this week released its summer outlook, outlining what Americans can expect over the next season.

The use of the color red in the map above may be confusing. It is not indicating how hot a region is likely to be, but instead shows the likelihood that a region will experience hotter than normal temperatures. The dark red regions represent those areas most likely to see a jump. The white, oval-shaped spot in the center of the map is expected to be spared from hotter-than-normal temperatures. That's Kansasand Nebraska, along with chunks of Oklahoma, South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.

The rest of the country should expect things to be hotter than normal. The furthest departure from average is likely to hit Alaska's Aleutian Islands, that sliver of land that juts out from the state's southwestern edge.

This outlook comes weeks after the NOAA reported that the last 12 months have been the hottest consecutive 12 months in the administration's records.

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Even Alaska saw a "record early start it is growing season," and a "record-early breakup of ice along the Yukon River," said Jake Crouch, a NOAA climate scientist, on a call with reporters last week.

Almost 14 percent of the lower 48 United States is still in drought, despite the heavy rains that have fallen in some regions.

"Even though we did see drought improvement in California, 86 percent of the state continues to be in drought, and 21 percent of the state continues to be 'D4,' the worst drought category," Crouch told reporters on the call last week.

This has not been the case in Texas and the surrounding Southeastern region, which has experienced several periods of intense rainfall and flooding over the last year.

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"We have moved now to a period of time where our biggest risk is too much rainfall and associated risk of flooding, flash flooding," said Victor Murphy, climate service program manager, NOAA's National Weather Service-Southern Region, on last week's call with reporters.

Murphy added that Texas and the Southeast should expect to see more rain through June.

El Nino and La Nina are between phases right now, with El Nino receding and La Nina slowly gaining momentum. That means neither phase of the cycle is likely to have a significant effect on summer weather.

Sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are starting to drop, indicating a La Nina on the way later this year. If we do transition to La Nina by the end of the year, which is likely, then global average temperatures may pull back from their record 2015 highs, according to Stephen Baxter, a meteorologist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

But he does not expect the planet to cool down too much so soon. "We are so much above 2015, it is unlikely we will drop below" the 2015 global average temperature value, he said on last week's call.