The eastern U.S. from the Midwest to the Northeast may swelter next week as another round of temperatures in the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) raises energy use by as much as 30 percent and dries crops.
Temperatures along the East Coast may be 5 degrees above normal while reaching 8 degrees higher in the Midwest, including Chicago, from July 16-20, according to Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
“The heat indexes can get up into the 100s” because the higher temperatures will be accompanied by higher humidity, CWG President Matt Rogers said in a telephone interview. “It’s going to be a strong demand period, that’s for sure.”
More than 6,000 high temperature records have been broken or tied in the U.S. since June 1, the start of summer for meteorologists, while natural gas futures advanced 13 percent from June 1 through yesterday amid increased demand for fuel to run air conditioners. Natural gas is used to produce about 32 percent of U.S. power.
From Chicago to New York, residents may need at least 30 percent more energy to cool down next week, said David Salmon, owner of Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri. Parts of upstate New York may use 80 percent more.
Electricity generators will burn gas at an average rate of 25.22 billion cubic feet a day this year, 21 percent more than in 2011, the Energy Department said yesterday in its Short-Term Energy Outlook.
August-delivery natural gas rose as much as 2.7 percent on the New York Mercantile Exchange today on forecasts for hot weather through July 25.
In June, 3,282 daily high temperature records were set or tied across the U.S., according to the National Climatic Data Center. So far this month, 2,761 records have been broken or tied, according to the center in Asheville, North Carolina.
In addition, the heat and dryness have sent at least 56 percent of the U.S. into drought conditions, the center said.
The U.S. Agriculture Department has cut production and inventory estimates for corn and soy beans because of the continuing drought.
Prices for corn, the largest U.S. crop, surged 42 percent from mid-June through yesterday as areas of moderate to extreme drought expanded to 53 percent of the Midwest. Crop conditions as of July 8 were the worst for that date since the drought of 1988, government data show.
The drought will help keep temperatures high because dry ground allows for “enhanced solar heating,” said Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist for Planalytics Inc. in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. “There’s an old term, ‘drought begets drought’ that’s going to hold this year.”
The temperature has hit 90 or higher in New York’s Central Park 11 times since June 20, while the 2002 to 2011 yearly average was 15.9, the National Weather Service said. The high reached 90 five times in June, the most since six days in 1999.
Central Park is forecast to reach 90 again tomorrow, according to the weather service. Chicago is forecast to have a high of 87 tomorrow.
The normal average temperature in New York on July 13 is 78 degrees, according to MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Its 74 in Boston; 80 in Washington; 80 in Atlanta; 75 in Chicago; 85 in Houston; 66 in Seattle and 75 in Burbank, California.