The calendar may indicate that summer just started Saturday, but parts of the country already have experienced summerlike conditions for weeks.
Blistering heat has been swelling over the Plains, with the hot weather expected to shift eastward across the Midwest and into the interior Northeast. And wildfire season got the jump on summer with blazes already consuming thousands of acres in the Southwest. It’s also been "abnormally dry" through the Western states, with pockets of moderate and severe drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Here’s a look at a regional breakdown of AccuWeather’s latest 2020 summer forecast.
Central and southern Plains
Past and future rain events can hold back daytime temperatures in the far southern Plains and the lower Mississippi Valley, and humidity levels will remain high.
Frequent fronts may get down into the southern U.S., which is kind of unusual as you get into July and August. With cooler air prevailing to the north and a more humid air mass fueled by the warm waters of the gulf, parts of southeastern Texas up to Dallas could experience more frequent severe weather, said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
Meanwhile, southwestern Texas, including cities such as El Paso, is poised for prolonged hot weather. Drought conditions have intensified and expanded from the southwestern Plains north into Oklahoma and Kansas, and hot and dry weather can persist for most of the summer season.
Not surprisingly, hot weather has been and will continue to be a recurring theme during the first part of the season in the Southwest.
In fact, heat more typical of summer made an entrance in late April, complicating social distancing measures in Southern California, where many sought relief by heading to the beach. And in Phoenix, the mercury soared into the triple digits in late April as a heat wave set in.
Minimal precipitation also made it very dry. The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates large sections of the Southwest were enduring severe drought conditions by mid-June with pockets of extreme drought in some areas. Wildfires were increasingly an issue as blazes spread across parts of six states in the days leading up to summer.
The region will finally get a break from parched conditions in July and August, as monsoon moisture begins to arrive.
The moisture should lower the wildfire risk until August and September across central and southern parts of California. However, the monsoon rainfall overall may average near to slightly below normal.