The start of summer is fast approaching, and AccuWeather meteorologists are ready to pull back the curtain to reveal what weather Americans across the country can expect in the coming months.
The first taste of summer arrived months ahead of schedule in Southern California when widespread temperatures in the 80s and 90s F were reported during the first half of February. Meanwhile, residents of the northern Plains might still be wondering if winter has ended yet with multiple rounds of Arctic air and blizzard conditions throughout April.
The roller-coaster ride that is spring will continue to blur the lines between the seasons in the coming weeks, but the light is at the end of the tunnel and widespread, long-lasting warmth is fast approaching.
Summer has been on the minds of AccuWeather's long-range forecasters for weeks, and the team of meteorologists, led by Senior Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, has put together the pieces of the weather-forecasting puzzle to create a forecast for the contiguous United States for the upcoming season.
Meteorological summer is slated to begin on Wednesday, June 1, just two days after Memorial Day weekend, which is often touted as the unofficial start to summer. Astronomical summer will commence less than three weeks later on the solstice, which occurs this year at 5:13 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 21.
Dan O'Conor, the "Great Lake Jumper," performs a can-opener dive on his 363rd leap as he nears his 365th consecutive daily plunge into Lake Michigan, Thursday, June 10, 2021, in Chicago's Montrose Point. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)
Take a look at the complete region-by-region breakdown of the U.S. summer forecast below:
Lawnmowers will have their work cut out for them this summer across the northeastern and midwestern U.S., although finding windows of opportunities to head outside to cut the grass could be tricky with a stormy pattern on tap.
"In the Northeast," Pastelok explained, "we've had ample amounts of moisture here to start off 2022."
This wet weather pattern is predicted to continue across the regions into the summer with frequent rain that could disrupt many outdoor summertime activities, such as doing yard work, exercising outdoors or playing golf.
"We may not have to water the lawn too often," Pastelok said. "The thing is: you're going to have to probably cut the lawn often."
Johnny Wilson mows a lawn in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
More moisture will also mean increased chances for severe weather from the Atlantic coast through the Great Lakes.
"We may have a lot of severe weather to deal with here in the Northeast coming early to mid part of the summer season," Pastelok said. "All of the ingredients are there."
The Midwest faces the highest risk of severe weather this summer, particularly in June and July, but damaging storms and tornadoes will also be possible across the Northeast throughout the summer, including the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor.
Pastelok noted that the long-term weather pattern this year is showing some similarities to 2012, a summer that produced a disastrous derecho across the Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic.
A derecho is a long-lived complex of thunderstorms that produces destructive wind gusts of at least 58 mph over an area spanning at least 240 miles. Wind gusts often exceed the 58-mph benchmark and the storm system is sometimes referred to as an "inland hurricane."
The areas at the highest risk of experiencing the impacts of a derecho, Pastelok said, are the Midwest, Ohio Valley and parts of the mid-Atlantic.
While the wet pattern will fuel severe weather, it will help to limit the potential for heat waves across the regions.
Nearly every major city across the Northeast and Midwest experienced more 90-degree days than normal last summer. Boston typically counts 14 90-degree days throughout the year, but last year reported 24. This year, AccuWeather is predicting 15 to 18 90-degree days for the city.
Last summer in the nation's capital, the mercury hit 90 F on 48 occasions above the long-term average of 40 days. A repeat could unfold this summer in Washington, D.C., with 42 to 46 days expected to reach 90 F this year.
Chicago is another city forecast to have more 90-degree days than normal this year, similar to what unfolded in 2021. Last year, the city counted 22 days where the mercury reached 90 F, above the long-term average of 16 days. This year, AccuWeather is predicting that the Windy City will experience 18 to 24 days with a temperature of at least 90 F.
Pastelok noted that although daytime temperatures will average near normal in the eastern half of the nation this summer, overnight temperatures will be well above normal. This means that there will be less natural cooling at night, increasing the energy demand during the overnight hours.
Folks planning a trip to a beach along the Atlantic coast this summer to get some relief from the heat are in luck, although not every day will be picture perfect.
"You're still going to get a hot day here and there, and I do think it's going to be a decent but not a great beach summer," Pastelok said.
He added that for people heading to a beach in the mid-Atlantic or the Carolinas this summer for a seven-day vacation, there will likely be rain on two or three of those seven days.
This July 9, 2018, photo shows beachgoers on the shoreline of Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)
One wildcard in the beach forecast is an early-season tropical system, which could have multi-day, far-reaching impacts including rough surf, rip currents, wind and rain.
Last summer, there were four tropical systems that spun up near the U.S. coast between mid-June and mid-July, with Tropical Storm Claudette, Tropical Storm Danny and Hurricane Elsa all making landfall. Tropical Storm Bill was the only one of the bunch not to make landfall but spun up just off the coast of the Carolinas and was close enough to land to create disruptions at the beaches.
The areas at the highest risk for an early-season tropical impact include the central Gulf Coast and most of Florida, but other regions, including North Carolina's popular Outer Banks, cannot be completely ruled out from an early-season impact.
The 2022 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to ramp up in late summer and early autumn in a similar fashion to the 2021 season.
Between 16 and 20 named storms are forecast to develop this year with multiple U.S. impacts predicted, according to AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski. Click here for a complete breakdown of AccuWeather's 2022 Atlantic hurricane season forecast.
As thunderstorms frequent the East Coast and Midwest and tropical troubles brew near the Southeast, rain could be hard to come by across the nation's heartland.
Drought conditions are widespread from Texas through Montana with most of the High Plains experiencing severe to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The worst conditions are focused on the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles and western New Mexico.
"The High Plains is going to end up being drier and drier and drier as we go into the first part of the summer season," Pastelok said. "So, I don't see any relief coming that way from any big [thunderstorm] complexes developing."
The heat and dryness will not only put a strain on crops across the region, but it will also lead to a higher-than-average cooling demand across the region. Americans living in metro areas of San Antonio, Dallas, up into Kansas City and west out to Denver can expect substantial home cooling costs this summer.
The best chance for much-needed rain across the drought-stricken West will arrive in the form of the annual monsoon over the Rocky Mountains and Four Corners.
"We do think it's going to be a pretty decent monsoon season," Pastelok said. He added that it could begin slightly earlier than normal in late June or early July. Typically, the monsoon in the southwestern U.S. begins in July and lasts into September.
Rain from the monsoon will help to douse short-term drought concerns across the region, but the monsoon-induced rain will be a double-edged sword.
"Unfortunately when the monsoon season starts, you can get development of more fires triggered by lightning strikes, and then you have to deal with the mudslides afterward in the burn area. So it's not all good news, but it is good news as far as water goes," Pastelok explained.
The fire season in the Four Corners got underway during the second half of April with multiple blazes breaking out, including the Tunnel Fire near Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Calf Canyon Fire near Santa Fe, New Mexico.
A lightning bolt streaking over the Grand Canyon during a summer thunderstorm. (NPS/Grand Canyon National Park)
Thunderstorms associated with the monsoon could disrupt outdoor plans all across the interior West during what is expected to be the busiest summer travel season since before the coronavirus pandemic.
The millions of people set to visit national parks from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Zion and Arches in Utah and eastward into Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado will all be subject to rounds of turbulent weather during the monsoon season.
The start of this summer will be much different than last year for part of the West Coast, but the overall theme of the season will be the same, according to AccuWeather long-range forecasters.
Last June featured all-time record heat across the Pacific Northwest and into Canada, melting away long-standing temperature records in dozens of cities. Portland, Oregon, set a new all-time high temperature three days in a row during the peak of last summer's intense heat wave with the mercury topping out at 116 F.
This June will almost be the exact opposite with temperatures more typical of early summer and even some brief shots of rain and some high elevation snow. Temperatures throughout the month as a whole are predicted to be 6 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit lower when compared to last June from Seattle down to the south and east through Salt Lake City.
The cool and periodically wet start to summer in the Pacific Northwest will not last for long, eventually giving way to the warm and dry conditions expected across the rest of the western U.S.
The summer heat will make quick work of California's snowpack, a vital resource for filling water reservoirs during the dry season. Mountain snow across California was well below normal this past winter, meaning that there will not be as much snowmelt feeding into the already depleted reservoirs.
Pastelok said that water restrictions and limited hydroelectric power is anticipated across the region following the dry winter months and the limited snowpack across the region's mountains.
Even with rain from the monsoon, it will be far short of ending the long-term drought across the interior Southwest. Earlier this year, the water level in Arizona's Glen Canyon Dam, one of the most critical water reservoirs in the western U.S., dropped to the lowest level since its creation in the 1960s. If the water level continues to drop, it could threaten the hydroelectric power generators at the reservoir.
The summer heat combined with the unusually dry conditions will set the stage for yet another active wildfire season.
"We had some greening taking place in December in Northern California and then again here late in the season. That's bad news. When that dries out, that's going to set more fuel to the fires out there as we get later in the season," Pastelok explained.
Wildfire season in Southern California could ramp up in June before the threat becomes more widespread across the western U.S. throughout July and into August.
"We're going to have all those details down the road here when we release our wildfire [forecast] in May," Pastelok said.
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