Little Relief: Hot, Dry West Predicted through October

PHOENIX - Anyone in the Southwest hoping for long-term relief from the heat will be disappointed by the latest long-range outlook.

It calls for the climate to remain warmer than normal and dry into the fall.

A forecast released today by NOAA, parent of the National Weather Service, predicts above normal temperatures from August through October along the West coast, in the Southwest, the west-central Plains, and western and southern Texas.

Higher than normal temperatures are also expected in South Florida and much of the deep South for the period.

Rainfall will be above normal along the south Atlantic coast from Virginia through Florida, forecasters predict, while it will likely be dry throughout the Great Basin and the Southwest.

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In the Southwest, the monsoon is late. Monsoon is a season during which strong thunderstorms and heavy downpours are common. It typically starts in early July.

The delayed monsoon and the hot July are somewhat related.

"Typically, the warmest temperatures of the year in the southwestern United States occur in June or early July, just before the start of the monsoon season," said Wayne Higgins, principal climate scientist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Things are about to change in the short-term.

"Over the past several days high pressure aloft over the four corners of the region has become established and will bring monsoon moisture into Arizona and New Mexico," Higgins added.

The chance of showers and thunderstorms will increase over the next few days as the remnants of hurricane Emily move into southern Arizona. The moisture will bring daytime temperatures down from their recent record highs.

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In the Phoenix area, 18 people have been killed by the heat, which reached 116 earlier in the week. By Saturday, the daytime high is expected to be 104, just below normal for this time of year.

Meteorologists think the delayed start to the monsoon will likely mean a lackluster year for it, contributing to the prediction of below-normal rainfall in the region. The monsoon usually runs through September.

Dry conditions are expected to allow drought to persist at moderate to severe levels across much of Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and western Montana, the new report states.