Summer 2021 has been Utah’s hottest ever so far, expected to last long

Utah Heat
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UTAH (ABC4) – If the first half of this summer seemed hotter than ever, that’s because for Utahns, it was.

According to data gathered by ABC4 Utah’s Pinpoint Weather Team, the opening half of Summer 2021 was the hottest first half to summer in recorded history.

The heat came earlier than ever this year, and if last year is any indication, it’s going to last for a while, says Chief Meteorologist Alana Brophy.

“Don’t forget, we hit the earliest 100-degree temperature reading in Salt Lake City on June 4. We also ended the season last year with the latest 100-degree temperature reading on September 5, 2020,” Brophy says.

What’s happening to create this immensely sweaty summer in the Beehive State comes down to a number of factors, according to Meteorologist Cesar Cornejo.

“High-pressure systems are staying over the Great Basin and the Southwest in general, which has really been promoting lots of clear conditions for sunshine,” Cornejo explains. “The hot air kind of sinking down, and also on top of that, our drought and not having the moisture to help us to keep on the cooler side has been creating that kind of natural baking mechanism. It’s been really affecting us since early June.”

Unfortunately for Utahns who don’t particularly enjoy being ‘baked’ in the sunshine, this summer could be a jumping-off point for the way things will be going forward.

According to a 2018 government report on how climate change may affect life in the Southwest region of the United States, extreme temperatures are expected to continue, bringing more heat, more desertification, and longer and longer droughts. Cornejo notes that this year’s conditions are “telltale signs” of a bigger issue going forward.

“We know that changes are on the horizon,” he adds.

While the state is watching for signs of a “La Niña” winter, in which polar jet streams could drop more moisture and cooler air into the region, conditions will have to be perfect for Utah to avoid another low snowpack year.

Low snowpack would equal low snowmelt, which would result in increased drought conditions in Summer 2022.

Cornejo is hopeful that nature’s balancing act will swing an extremely snowy winter in the coming months, but notes that the circumstances will have to be a “perfect, Goldilocks situation.”

“One thing that every expert is saying with climate change is that extremes do happen still, so while we got really terrible snowpack last year, next year might be really good,” he says.

As for now, it’s been historically hot, and chances are the heat is going to last even longer and be even more intense than ever before.

More records are set to be broken, says Brophy.

“Another record to watch will be the number of triple digits degree days we have in Salt Lake and the number of days at or above 110 in St. George. Salt Lake has already hit 17, with 21 being the record set back in 1960 then tied in 1994. That’s data that basically sums up the type of summer we are having. That, and oh yeah, the amount each one of us is sweating!”

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