This coast-to-coast heat wave isn’t normal. When will it cool down?


Sure, it’s summer and it’s supposed to be hot. But not this hot.

Nearly the whole nation has been facing higher-than-usual temperatures amid a weeks-long, record-smashing heat wave fueled in part by the warming climate. And forecasts say there’s no relief in sight.

“I don’t see any drastic change in the weather pattern at this point,” AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Paul Pastelok told USA TODAY, adding that above-average temperatures are forecast across the country into the fall.

As of Wednesday, more than 144 million million Americans were under some kind of excessive heat alert, according to Heat.gov. Oppressive heat continues to blanket much of the western U.S. and large swaths of the South, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and southern New England.

“Near all-time high temperature record heat will continue over portions of the Southwest this week,” the National Weather Service said. “This long-duration heat wave remains extremely dangerous and deadly if not taken seriously.”

It is way too hot. 160 million under alert as heat breaks records and a bridge

Spreading high pressure will lock in high temps

Pastelok said a large, dominant area of high pressure is responsible for the ongoing heat in the West, which will spread into the central U.S. by next week. Air sinks underneath high-pressure areas, preventing cooling clouds and rain from forming.

This will cause much of the country to bake under more high heat by the middle of next week.

There aren’t a lot of dips and turns in the jet stream now, he added, so there’s nothing to disrupt this pattern.

Nearly the entire U.S. is forecast to see above-average temperatures next week.

Nearly the entire U.S. is forecast to see above-average temperatures next week.

Maps show weeks of above-average summer heat

Forecast maps from the federal Climate Prediction Center for upcoming days and weeks are all orange and red, signifying above-average temperatures are likely.

According to the prediction center, the weather pattern for next week “favors above-normal temperatures for nearly the entire continental U.S. and Hawaii. The strongest chances for above-normal temperatures are in the Southeast and the northern Intermountain West.”

While summers are always hot, it’s important to remember that the heat events the U.S. and the world are experiencing are far beyond normal.

For example, June was the 13th straight month of record-warm temperatures for the planet, according to data from the Copernicus Climate Change Service.

That means every month for over a year straight was the hottest ever recorded. And 2023 was the hottest summer in 2,000 years, a study published last year found.

Glen Garner, who is homeless, tries to cool off in the 99-degree heat in Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach on Monday July 1, 2024. “It’s tough,” he said of trying to survive the extreme heat.

Glen Garner, who is homeless, tries to cool off in the 99-degree heat in Edward Rendon Sr. Park at Festival Beach on Monday July 1, 2024. “It’s tough,” he said of trying to survive the extreme heat.

Temperatures get a boost from climate change

Unusually warm temperatures on both coasts are getting a boost from climate change, noted meteorologists Jeff Masters and Bob Henson on the Yale Climate Connections blog.

“Extreme heat expected today across swaths of the West and the mid-Atlantic was made 400% more likely by climate change, according to an analysis by Climate Central, a nonprofit research group,” the meteorologists wrote.

Scientists say heat waves will continue to intensify if the world continues to unleash climate-warming emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Contributing: Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: USA heat forecast: When will temperatures finally cool?



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