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The Heat Is On: Most of US Likely to Have a Scorching Summer

noaa-summer-outlook-map
The western and northeastern parts of the U.S. have the highest odds (darkest red) for well above average temperatures this summer. (Image credit: Climate.gov)

It's likely to be a sweltering summer for most of the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In a continuing trend of 2016 being a warmer-than-average year, this summer could be a scorcher for a majority of the U.S., NOAA says.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center released its summer outlook last week, which predicts above-average temperatures for the next season. Jon Gottschalck, a meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), told Live Science that the warmer temperatures are expected after El Niño, a climate cycle during which a band of warm water in the Pacific Ocean can impact global weather patterns.

"Typically, when you have a transition from El Niño to La Niña, there's generally warmer temperatures across much of the country, so that's one of the primary drivers," Gottschalck said.

The CPC also released a map that indicates the likelihood that a region will experience a hotter than average summer. The dark-red areas of the map represent the regions most likely to see a temperature jump. Alaska's Aleutian Islands have the highest chance of a particularly hot summer, according to NOAA. Only a small portion of the central U.S. is expected to have an average season (the white, oval-shaped area on the map).

Nebraska, Kansas and most of South Dakota — along with areas of Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming — will likely be spared from a scorching summer because these areas experienced more precipitation this year.

"A lot of the precipitation tends to produce high soil moisture content, and that can have a feedback into the longer-term climate system," Gottschalck said.

However, soil moisture will help keep temperatures in those areas level for only a few months; the entire country is expected to see continued above-average temperatures well into the autumn season, according to NOAA.

"That soil-moisture impact earlier in the summer — that will slowly abate unless more precipitation comes," which is difficult to predict at this time, Gottschalck said. "Right now, we're favoring above-normal temperatures through the fall across the entire country," he added.

Original article on Live Science.

Kacey Deamer
Kacey Deamer is a journalist for Live Science, covering planet earth and innovation. She has previously reported for Mother Jones, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, Neon Tommy and more. After completing her undergraduate degree in journalism and environmental studies at Ithaca College, Kacey pursued her master's in Specialized Journalism: Climate Change at USC Annenberg. Follow Kacey on Twitter.