Top Stories
Top Stories
Weather & Natural Disasters

NOAA estimates how far summer heat will climb above averages

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a hotter-than-normal summer. And some parts of the country will be hit harder than others.

The graphic above, released by NOAA this week, shows which parts of the country are likely to have the highest temperatures over their usual seasonal averages. Darker reds indicate temperatures the most in excess of historical averages. The black numbers indicate historical averages. The red numbers indicate by how many degrees, in Fahrenheit, total average temperatures are likely to climb above the average.

According to NOAA, most of California can expect to be a half degree above average. Within that region some areas will climb even higher.

The region that will likely be the hottest in the country, compared with its historical averages, is the dark red circle crossing southern California, southern Nevada and parts of western Arizona. That area is home to Las Vegas.

The northeastern United States will also likely be a bit hotter than normal, and the northern stretches of the Great Lakes region will also see a jump of a full degree Fahrenheit at the center of the forecast distribution.

How much difference a degree makes

One degree may not sound like much, but these may be conservative estimates. NOAA says the actual temperatures have a 50-50 chance of being either higher or lower than their estimates. These numbers are given just to give a rough idea what the picture will look like.

The historical averages, it it important to note, are "an average of an average," said Stephen Baxter, a meteorologist with NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, in an interview with CNBC. If a region's historical average is 70 degrees, that means it is a daily average of highs and lows across averaged the entire season. So, a region with a June-July-August average of 70 degrees will most likely have daily highs that are much higher.

While this will likely be a warmer than normal summer for much of the U.S., it is not as likely to go down as one of the really hot summers
Stephen Baxter
meteorologist, NOAA Climate Prediction Center

NOAA's Baxter said this summer will most likely be an exceptionally warm one, it will not quite be the scorcher the country saw in the summers of 2010 through 2012, when much of the western United States was in the throes of drought.

"This year we have more confidence than other years, at least I do, as the forecaster, that while this will likely be a warmer than normal summer for much of the U.S., it is not as likely to go down as one of the really hot summers," he said. "If you think back to 2010, '11, and '12, those were really hot summers in terms of national averages."

Baxter attributes this mostly to drought relief across much of the country, and slightly different sea-surface temperatures in North Pacific and North Atlantic.