Fall officially started a month ago, but for much of the country this week felt like summer, with dozens of cities reporting record-breaking temperatures.
The unusually hot weather stretched through the Southwest and into the Northeast over the course of the week, even as drought conditions continued in various states and a wildfire in southern Colorado prompted mass evacuations.
On Monday alone, at least 99 heat records were broken across the country, NBC reported. In some areas this meant triple-digit temperatures. In the Oklahoma Panhandle, for instance, temperatures soared to 102 degrees, the highest ever recorded this late in the year.
As the warm trend continued through the week, temperatures in the Washington, D.C. area reached an unseasonable high of 87 degrees Wednesday. Birmingham, Alabama hit 91 on Wednesday, breaking the record of 88 set in 1938.
And by Thursday in the Southwest, parts of San Diego County saw temperatures going into the 90s, forcing the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for critical fire weather conditions.
This October heat wave comes as drought conditions have been wreaking havoc in multiple states not usually associated with a lack of rain. In Maine, some 1.2 million people — almost the state’s entire population — now live in areas experiencing drought, the Portland Press Herald reported.
And in New Jersey, which also experienced unusual warm weather this week, officials are considering whether to issue a drought warning for dozens of counties. The last drought warning in New Jersey was in 2002.
The California drought that’s been pushing the state’s water resources to the brink is also ongoing, and the state’s winter is forecast to come up dry, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
— Brad Everett Young (@BradEYoung) October 20, 2016
The National National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts a warm, dry winter for much of the country, according to the U.S. Winter Outlook published Thursday.
La Nina, a cooling of water in the equatorial Pacific, is expected to influence winter conditions this year. This will mean warmer-than-normal conditions expected across the entire southern United States, as well as the central Rockies, Hawaii, northern Alaska, and Maine.
Cooler conditions are likely from northern Montana to western Michigan, NOAA said.
As has been the case every year over the past few years, 2016 is on track to be one of the hottest years ever recorded. Scientists have long said human-caused global warming is expected to increase the likelihood of heat waves worldwide, and contribute to more droughts, and other extreme weather events.