updated 5/27/2004 9:59:20 AM ET 2004-05-27T13:59:20

The Western drought will probably spread this summer, government forecasters said Wednesday, and warmer than normal temperatures are expected in both the East and West.

The long-term forecast for June, July and August anticipates above normal temperatures for much of the West, the Southwest, the Rocky Mountain States, the southern Alaskan coast, the Southeast, Ohio Valley and the Northeast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Drier-than-average weather is forecast for the Pacific Northwest. That is likely to mean that Washington and parts of Oregon see drought develop during the summer, the agency said.

Douglas LeComte, drought specialist at the agency’s Climate Prediction Center, noted that recent rains have caused flooding in the Midwest and South, with rivers in 13 states either above flood stage or expected to rise above flood stage as of last Thursday.

Various parts of the eastern half of the nation have experienced intense flooding at this month.

Limited drought relief
Meteorologists expect drought improvement in the Upper Midwest and gradual drought relief in the Southeast. They called the outlook in these areas “prudently optimistic.”

Not so for the West.

“Meanwhile, long-term drought is affecting every western state and many areas in the High Plains states,” said LeComte. “Clearly the major concern, as we move into summer, is in the West.”

The forecasters are expecting continued drought through the summer.

In addition to the Northwest, the seasonal drought outlook says there is also a high potential for drought development in Oklahoma and North Texas where hot, dry weather already in progress is rapidly depleting topsoil moisture.

“For the fifth year in a row drought will be on the forefront of minds of many in the West again this summer,” said LeComte.

A seasonal outlook drought map is online at www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2004/s2233.htm.

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