Just as temperatures were heating up for about half of the U.S. population this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued its monthly climate trends report on Thursday. The main takeaway? Prepare for a scorcher of a summer.
The agency said that above-normal temperatures are likely across almost all of the lower 48 states in June, July and August, except for small areas in the Pacific Northwest and Northern Plains.
The Northeast, from Delaware to Maine, has the highest likelihood of being extra-hot, along with parts of the West. The agency also forecast lower-than-normal precipitation for much of the West, which means it’s unlikely that the severe drought gripping the region will end.
The heat and dryness also portend a very bad wildfire season. In New Mexico, where firefighters are already battling severe blazes, including one that’s the largest in the state’s history, it’s hard to imagine how things could get any worse.
The climate pattern called La Niña is likely responsible for some of the above-normal heat. But it’s important to remember that, generally, it’s hotter than it used to be.
Greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the Earth’s atmosphere by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit compared with preindustrial times. Under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, nations set goals of reducing emissions to limit warming to about 3.6 degrees.