August 6, 2022

Drought Covers Half Of The U.S. As Long, Hot Summer Continues

It's been a long and hot stretch for much of the United States so far this summer, and things aren't looking too good if you're peeking at the forecast for some relief.

Stubborn ridges of high pressure have kept things very warm over much of the country this season, with  folks from the Pacific Northwest to the southeast notching one heat wave after another.

Denver is battling through one of its hottest summers on record up to this point. 9News meteorologist Chris Bianchi tweeted on Friday that Denver's average daily temperature so far this summer is 74.6°F, making this the second-warmest summer through the beginning of August.

Seattle ended July by shattering its longest streak of days with high temperatures of 90°F or hotter. The stretch between July 26th and July 31st recorded highs of 94°F, 91°F, 94°F, 95°F, 95°F, 95°F, respectively, which is way above the city's normal high of about 79°F at the end of the month.

Dallas hasn't seen a below-average high temperature since the end of June, with almost every day this summer notching a high temperature 5-12°F above normal at DFW Airport.

Long, Hot Summer Reinforces Drought

The heat's taken its toll. More than half of the contiguous United States fell into a drought this summer, and things haven't really gotten much better for the hardest-hit areas.

Vast swaths of Texas have seen less than 15 percent of their typical precipitation so far this summer, and deficits are widespread across the rest of the country.

As a result, 51.39 percent of the contiguous U.S. is in a drought as of the August 2nd update of the United States Drought Monitor (USDM). Nearly one-fifth of the country is in a severe or extreme drought, the two highest categories on the USDM's scale measuring the extent and longevity of drought conditions.

The long-term drought across the west stands out like a sore thumb. A beneficial monsoon in recent weeks has put a dent in the southwest's drought, but exceptional drought remains over parts of California's Central Valley, southern Nevada, and portions of central Utah.

Moderate and severe drought conditions have also built across parts of the northern Plains, Mid-South, and across New England. 

Heat Persists For Some, Relieving Rains For Others

The forecast for the rest of the month isn't looking too good for the central U.S., with the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) calling for decent odds of above-average temperatures and below-normal rainfall through the rest of the month.

This kind of pattern will bring better news for the western and eastern portions of the country, with troughs building around the ridge to bring a bit of relief from excessive heat, as well as the chance for rain in areas that could really use it.

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.