Record heat, brewing in the Plains and parts of drought-stricken Texas, is moving east and hundreds of temperature records could fall in its path.
From Thursday to Sunday, up to 130 record high temperatures are expected to be tied or broken in parts of 20 states. “Almost every day, Friday through Sunday, we’re looking to rival daily record temperatures, 15 to 20 degrees above May normals,” said Aaron Swiggett, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, North Carolina. .
Highs will range from 94 to 96 degrees all weekend in Raleigh, challenging records that have stood for nearly a century. The excessive heat is partly due to general weather conditions across the country. Over the past few days, the upper level winds in the atmosphere, known as the jet stream, have been zonal – or rather from west to east.
As this pattern persisted, a massive high pressure dome grew, allowing abnormally warm weather to build and spread out of the plains and into the southern and eastern half of the country.
Friday afternoon high temperatures in cities including Cleveland, Washington, Nashville, Tennessee and Richmond, Virginia, will be between 90 and 95 degrees – all warm enough to challenge daily records, some of which have been around since the 1930s .
The 90-degree heat will be widespread and affect millions of people, but parts of the South could even see its first triple-digit temperatures of the season.
Columbia, South Carolina has already seen three 90-degree days this month, but Thursday and Friday could usher in the city’s first 100-degree days of 2022. The average high in Columbia is just 84 to this time of year.
Atlanta had managed to avoid 90-degree heat so far this season, but with highs of up to 15 degrees above average, its luck ended Thursday. The first 90-degree day of the year in Atlanta usually lands on July 3. However, highs are expected to reach over 90 degrees through Saturday.
“It’s definitely early enough for this type of heat,” Swiggett told CNN. “We would normally see these temperatures in the height of summer.”
With the first truly significant heat wave to hit the eastern United States this year, he cautioned against outdoor activities this weekend. “The importance of shade is really important. We’re forecasting temperatures for shade, so it’s going to be even worse in the sun,” Swiggett said.
The warmest air of the year reaches the northeast
By Saturday and Sunday, the 90s will hit the Northeast and parts of New England.
The average high in Central Park is just 72 this time of year. The forecast on Saturday is 93 degrees. The last time the city recorded a 90 degree day was on August 27.
In Philadelphia, a high of 97 degrees is expected on Saturday, a mark that would surpass the previous high of 95 degrees since 1934.
If you’re looking for relief, you won’t find it in New England either.
“With high pressure building south of our region, we expect heat and humidity to build for the weekend,” said Joe Pollina, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York.
Records are possible in Hartford, Connecticut; Manchester, New Hampshire and Burlington, Vermont, where highs are all expected to reach between 92 and 95 degrees. These will challenge records which, for some places, have stood for over 110 years.
In Boston, the average high temperature this time of year is 68 degrees, but the city is forecasting highs between 90 and 93 this weekend.
“You have to take it easy, it’s not like the midsummer heat where we all had a bit of time to acclimatize,” Boston Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Belk told CNN.
People need to take this heat seriously and take appropriate precautions.
“The heat is a very sneaky killer,” Chesnea Skeen, a meteorologist with the Meteorological Service in Sterling, Va., told CNN. “A lot of the public doesn’t see it as a huge threat, but it’s actually one of the biggest killers, when it comes to extreme weather. As it’s a heat event at the start season, take it seriously, stay hydrated and avoid the sun.”
Fortunately, for the most part, the heat will not persist beyond the weekend.
Late Sunday afternoon, a powerful cool front will approach from the west, increasing cloud cover and the potential for a few thunderstorms.
As cooler air filters in behind the front, Monday will bring cooler temperatures to cities like New York, Philadelphia, Washington and Atlanta – where highs are expected to be in the 70s.