Space & Innovation

It's Going to Be a Scorching Summer

A new NOAA map shows where it's most likely to be hotter than usual.

Better get yourself a fan. Most of the continental United States is facing higher-than-normal chances of having temperatures that are "well above average" this summer, according to a forecast issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

By "well above average," NOAA forecasters mean that there's a likelihood of temperatures from June through August that will be in the warmest third of all summers in recent climate records (that is, from 1981 to 2010).

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The most likely hot spot is a surprising one--Alaska's Aleutian Islands, which have between a 60 and 70 percent chance of having an exceptionally warm summer. For the rest of the country, the regions most likely to be much hotter than normal are the West and the Northeast, which each have a probability of between 50 and 60 percent.

This graph shows expected heat trends this summer. | NOAA

If you're looking for the best best for staying relatively cool, you might go to the Great Plans, where the odds of having well-above-average temperatures are about even with the odds of near-average or well-below-average, at about 33 percent for each possible outcome.

It's important to remember here that the temperature standard here is a comparison with previous years in that part of the country, not between different regions.

"In other words, we're not predicting that summer temperatures in Maine will be farther above average than temperatures in Florida; we're predicting that the chances for an unusually hot summer are greater in Maine than they are in Florida," NOAA notes on its Climate.gov website.

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Though we're in the middle of a transition between El Niño and La Niña conditions--that is, between a mass of exceptionally warm Pacific water and cooler-than-usual ocean temperatures--that's not going to be the big factor in the heat wave, NOAA explains.

"Instead, the summer outlook is more influenced by short- and long-term ocean and atmospheric trends as well as mid-latitude sea surface temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans," the agency says.

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