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Ask Andrew: Are we going to bake in extreme heat this summer?

Meteorologist Andrew Stutzke explains why drought conditions out west will create higher temperatures this summer.

MOLINE, Ill. — May 2022 is already off to an incredibly warm start with a handful of broken high-temperature records and even a record for the consecutive number of 90-degree days this early in the month in jeopardy. Could this perhaps be a preview of coming attractions for the upcoming summer season? 

There are some correlations, not only to what is happening right now with our current hot and humid temperature pattern but also some links to the ongoing drought in the west. 

In a previous Storm Track 8 University session, Morgan and I talked about albedo, the measure of an object's ability to absorb or reflect heat energy. Ground conditions also have their own albedo, too. 

The dry ground tends to absorb more incoming heat energy from the higher sun angle this time of year. Meanwhile, moist soil tends to reflect a lot of that energy back into the atmosphere or use it towards the evaporation process. Both of these factors have likely influenced the current summer temperature forecast which favors above-normal conditions for much of the U.S. 

Credit: WQAD

The latest drought monitor shows widespread moderate, severe, extreme and even areas of exceptional drought west of the Mississippi River. Much of these areas have seen ongoing drought for several months. 

The region can also expect to experience a high probability of above-average temperatures for the upcoming summer season, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

Credit: WQAD
The Climate Prediction Center (NOAA) is predicting several locations across the United States will see warmer than normal conditions this summer.

It's no surprise that the Climate Prediction Center is picking up on the drought queues to favor higher probabilities of warmer temperatures over these exact same regions for the upcoming summer season. 

In the Quad Cities, we fall in the 40-to-50% probability of seeing warmer than normal temperatures here this upcoming summer. Much of this will depend on our moisture situation locally, as we have recovered quite nicely from more severe drought conditions this winter. 

If we can keep up on rainfall through the summer months, the heat is likely to be less intense. However, if we once again enter into drought conditions, especially on a moderate to a severe level, you can expect some scorching summer days. 

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