May 8, 2024 - News

Columbus could have unusually hot summer

Illustration of a thermometer shaped like an upwards arrow, with the mercury rising.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A hotter-than-usual summer is likely in Ohio and many other parts of the globe, according to new forecasts and scientific research.

Why it matters: Extreme heat is a major public health threat and plays a role in droughts and wildfires.

  • Heat waves also threaten the reliability of the nation's increasingly-strained electricity grid, as thousands of Columbus-area residents experienced last year.

😬 By the numbers: Everywhere in the Lower 48 — except for North Dakota and some of its surrounds — is also projected to be hotter than average, but with varying odds.

  • Ohio has a 40-50% chance of seeing abnormally hot temps this summer.
A map showing the seasonal temperature outlook across the United States, and which areas are likely to have above average temperatures this summer.
Map showing the likelihood of above, average, and below average temperatures across the U.S. during June, July and August 2024. Photo: NOAA/CPC

The big picture: An ongoing El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean is quickly fading, with cooling ocean temperatures at and beneath the surface.

  • A La Niña climate cycle is expected to take shape later this summer, featuring cooler-than-average tropical Pacific Ocean temperatures.
  • The transition will influence conditions around the globe, as the planet nears its 11th straight month with record warm temperatures.

Zoom in: Some studies show that these transitions are associated with hotter-than-average summertime conditions across large parts of the U.S., centered across the Midwest.

Flashback: Columbus was unusually dry late last spring, followed by dangerously high temps in mid-June that reached 97 degrees and a heat index approaching 110.

  • Wind storms knocked out power lines and AEP Ohio took many electricity customers offline to manage a strained power grid.
  • Columbus Metropolitan Library branches and community centers were used as public cooling centers, as they had in prior years.
Bar chart comparing average annual temperature change between 1970 and 2023 for Columbus, Ohio and the U.S. Average temperature has changed by 3.8°F in Columbus compared to 2.8°F for Ohio and 2.6°F for the U.S.
Data: Climate Central; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

What we're watching: If the soggy weather carries over into the summer.

  • Ohio faced a drought watch last year, but NOAA says no part of the state currently faces any drought concerns.

Also, we await the announced opening dates of the eight Columbus municipal pools.

  • Dodge, Driving Park, Glenwood and Tuttle pools will open May 25, while Lincoln, Marion Franklin, Maryland and Windsor pools will follow on June 8, Recreation and Parks Department spokesperson Dominique Shank tells us.
  • Four city spraygrounds are set to open May 25.
  • Most other suburban pools are opening near Memorial Day weekend.

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