NOAA forecasts above-average temps this fall

Source: By Rebekah Alvey, E&E News • Posted: Sunday, August 20, 2023

A bird takes flight on the horizon as the sun sets

A bird takes flight on the horizon as the sun sets during a heat wave in Los Angeles on Sept. 6, 2022. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

Above-normal heat is expected to persist through the fall in most of the United States, according to NOAA forecasts released Thursday.

The majority of the country is expected to see above-normal temperatures over the next three months, NOAA officials shared in a press call. Average temperatures are likely to occur in the center of the country and no lower-than-normal temperatures are expected.

Parts of northern Alaska, the Southeast and the Northeast have the greatest probability for above-normal temperatures, which can be attributed to “trends related to climate change,” said Dan Collins, a meteorologist at the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, in a press call.

In September alone, parts of the Seep South and Southwest may experience higher temperatures, while the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest can expect normal temperatures.

The high heat may not be coupled with additional rainfall. Parts of the South and Alaska have the highest probably for above-normal precipitation, while some of the Pacific Northwest, Southwest and Great Lakes region are expected to see below-average rainfall.

Drought is expected to worsen in some of the United States, including most of Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, eastern areas of the Southwest, Texas and into Louisiana.

NOAA found that this July had the highest global surface and water temperatures on record. This January through July was the third warmest on record, and this year has a nearly 50 percent chance of becoming the warmest year on record.

“A warming planet … means that we need to be prepared for the impacts of climate change that are happening here and now,” Sarah Kapnick, NOAA chief scientist, said in the call. “From devastating coral bleaching, deadly heat wave, poor air quality and destructive severe weather, this has been the summer of extremes.”

NOAA found that for the seven-month period of January to July, this year has produced the highest number of billion-dollar weather or climate disasters since 1980. These included tornadoes, flooding, cold waves and severe weather. In total, these events led to 113 direct and indirect deaths and cost over $39.7 billion.

From January through July of this year, there have been 15 billion-dollar weather or climate disasters in the United States. This doesn’t take into account other events like the recent deadly wildfires in Maui, drought in the South and Midwest, or other severe storms that have taken place over the past several months that are still being assessed.

The current record of billion-dollar disasters in the United States is 22 in 2020. Karin Gleason, climatologist and monitoring section chief at NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, said with the data collected so far, there is a reasonable expectation that this year could “challenge or even surpass” this record.

The rising global temperatures has also had a significant impact on coral bleaching in the Caribbean and the Atlantic. While other areas are experiencing above-normal sea temperatures, Florida coral has been the most severely impacted by longer and earlier exposure to greater heat.