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The first day of summer to bring high heat, humidity, and a ‘flash drought’ to the Chicago area

About 70 percent of Americans will see temperatures in the 90s today, the firsy day of summer.

Heatwave stokes North America's warmest June on record
The heat wave forced people to take shelter in cooling stations like this one in Portland, Oregon - Copyright AFP ADITYA AJI
The heat wave forced people to take shelter in cooling stations like this one in Portland, Oregon - Copyright AFP ADITYA AJI

Welcome to the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, and for many Americans, it will seem like the hottest day of the year. The summer heat is just turning on and temperatures will get warmer for the next few months.

According to the National Weather Service, dangerous heat and record high temperatures are expected this week from the Upper midwest and Great Lakes to the Southern part of the country.

In the coming week, about 70 percent of the U.S. population will see temperatures in the 90s, and almost 20 percent of people in the country will experience temperatures greater than 100 degrees. 

As the heat continues to build across the northern Plains, Midwest, and Gulf Coast, it could bring triple-digit temperature records as it progresses into the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic on Tuesday.

Chance of a flash drought

The recent heat wave, coupled with lower than normal precipitation, has produced conditions ripe for what’s known as a “flash drought” in the Chicago area, according to the National Weather Service.

Flash drought is simply the rapid onset or intensification of drought. It is set in motion by lower-than-normal rates of precipitation, accompanied by abnormally high temperatures, winds, and radiation, according to NOAA.

And unlike a conventional drought, which can happen anywhere and at any time, flash drought typically occurs during warm seasons in the central United States.

Source – National Drought Monitor

Oklahoma experienced a flash drought in September, last year. Typically, September is a wet month and the perfect time for planting winter wheat, reports Grist.

But last year, many were caught off guard by abnormally dry weather that descended without warning. In the span of just three weeks, nearly three-quarters of the state began experiencing drought conditions, ranging from moderate to extreme. 

Flash droughts are coming on more frequently, making them more difficult to predict and more damaging, according to a recent study published in the journal Nature Communications.

Scientists at the University of Texas and Hong Kong Polytechnic University found that in the last 20 years,  flash droughts developing in under a week increased by more than 20 percent in the Central United States. 

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Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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