Widespread, punishing heat may soon settle in for long haul across Lower 48 states

A pattern change may drive sustained, expansive heat over much of the U.S. and Canada if long-range forecasts are right

Summer 2020 may go down in the books as much warmer than average for the United States or portions of the country. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

A period of punishing heat may envelop much of the Lower 48 and potentially extend to parts of Canada and Alaska. Soaring temperatures could swallow much of the contiguous United States toward the end of June, arriving just in time for calendar-year summer and potentially lingering for weeks. The above-average temperatures are part of a major pattern change that would bring anomalous warmth to some parts of the nation that have seen a cooler than average spring.

A European model projection shows dramatic “ridging,” or a crest in the west-to-east wind lines, as warmth builds over the Lower 48 in late June. (WeatherBell) Some computer models in recent days have shown an expansive hot weather pattern becoming established in late June, continuing through July and possibly longer.

Not every day during this warm period will be unusually hot; transient cold fronts are still likely to pass through some areas, especially in the eastern United States. But the predicted weather pattern would favor extended periods of elevated temperatures virtually coast to coast, especially by July, with some more intense spurts of heat on more local levels.