Looks Like the U.S. Will See Hotter-Than-Average Temperatures This Summer

We put together a quick science lesson.

In February, the nation braced for a wave of unprecedented cold temperatures that went on to cause severe damage in some parts of the country. Now, meteorologists are warning that we're in for a very hot summer likely to worsen the droughts plaguing nearly half of the United States.

According to The Weather Channel, most of the country will see hotter than average temperatures between June and August. The affected area spans from the West Coast all the way over to the Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes, but it's the northern and central Rockies and Plains that will be hit hardest.

The Weather Channel's three-month outlook for Summer 2021
Courtesy of The Weather Channel

You might be wondering: Why is the weather so extreme these days? Well, first of all, climate change—studies show that average summer temperatures have risen slowly over time—but there are also shorter-term factors in play.

La Niña is an irregular phenomenon that happens in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, when water temperatures cool and disrupt typical weather patterns in America. The way it affects weather is very complex and scientific, but all you need to understand is that La Niña peaked this past fall and is now weakening as we enter spring. Historically, summers following a La Niña event are unusually warm in the US.

Soil conditions can also affect weather. Dry soil warms up faster, creating more heat in the air than moist soil would.

The Drought Monitor's US map as of early March 2021
Courtesy of USDA, NDMC, NOAA

The Drought Monitor revealed that over 46% of the continental US was in a state of drought in early March; The Weather Channel notes that this is the most expansive area of early March drought in a decade. Scientists say that a spring drought is likely to feed on itself and worsen throughout summer, meaning warmer and dryer days are ahead.

With climate change, La Niña, and widespread drought all working against us, we should prepare for a hot several months. Maybe now's the time to stock up on refreshing summer drinks and invest in new air conditioners—don't say we didn't warn you.

h/tTravel + Leisure

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.