Most regions within the 48 contiguous U.S. states are likely to see hotter-than-normal temperatures this summer, according to the Climate Prediction Center, a branch of the National Weather Service.

A predictive map published May 19 shows high probabilities for above-normal temperatures almost everywhere in the Lower 48 during June, July, and August. Only in the far Northern Plains — parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana — and the far Northwest — parts of Oregon and Washington state — are there even equal chances of temperatures being either above or below normal.

The map shows no parts of the contiguous U.S. having greater-than-average chances of seeing below-normal temperatures.

A La Nina — lower surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean near the Equator — is expected to added to summer weather woes. A La Nina is typically associated with hot, dry weather in the West and an increase in hurricane formation in the Atlantic Ocean, said Professor Richard Rood, who teaches in the College of Engineering and the School for Environment and Sustainability at the University of Michigan.

“Drought is going to be the story in the western part of the country this year,” Rood said.

A notable exception may be in the parts of Arizona and New Mexico affected by the North American Monsoon, which brings a significant proportion of precipitation to those states in July, August, and September, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“I’m actually holding out a lot of hope that we have a good monsoon season,” said Rood, who lives in the Boulder, Colorado, area.

The 2022 La Nina will be the third consecutive La Nina. That’s only happened two other times since 1950, according to NOAA.

Complicating the concept of “above average” temperatures, Rood said, is that U.S. “averages” were recently recalculated upward to account for data from the last decade.

“We would empower our staff as to how far they were going to go to get the job done.”
Matthew Akins
Manager of HVACR education, ACCA

Staying Safe on the Job

Matthew Akins knows hot weather: He spent 16 years as an HVAC helper, technician, installer, and supervisor, working in and around Atlanta, Georgia, where the average high temperature in July is around 89°F.

Worse, HVAC systems in the region are often based in attics, meaning Akins’ jobs frequently took him to cramped, baking-hot spaces with little air movement.

One summer day, a colleague working by himself passed out in an attic. Akins and coworkers became alarmed when they couldn’t reach him for several hours.

“The customer found him in the attic and called us back, and she called 911 for us as well,” said Akins recently by phone.

A hole had to be cut in an exterior wall outside the attic in order to rescue the tech, Akins said; he recovered, and the medical diagnosis was that he had suffered some kind of heat-related stress.

After that, Akins’ workplace adopted a “buddy system,” requiring those working alone in the field to check in with each other, with phone calls or text messages, on an hourly basis to make sure everybody was safe. “The heat was mainly our primary consideration,” Akins said.

Akins, now the manager of HVACR education at Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), is a workplace safety evangelist, stressing precautions against all kinds of job-site hazards. (Contractors can add that to a list of practices for keeping summertime employee morale high.) Akins recommends the buddy system for techs working alone, in addition to these tips for staying healthy in the heat:

  • Start early in the day, when it’s cooler, if a job involves work in a hot space such as an attic. “We would try to get the technician there by 7 a.m., or even earlier if the customer agreed,” Akins said.
  • Work in basements or in other spaces that don’t get as hot can be scheduled for later in the day, when it’s typically warmer out, to save the cooler hours for hot-space jobs, Akins said.
  • Stay hydrated. Akins said his employer had an ice machine and “lots of pallets of water and Gatorade” that techs were free to raid before getting out in the field. “We would make sure they had everything they needed and make it accessible to them,” he said.
  • Train for safety, including for working safely in hot conditions. Akins said his HVAC career included monthly employee training that, from April into the fall, focused on recognizing the signs of heat-related illnesses. (Akins has been both the trainer and the student.)
  • Stay aware of potential heat-related issues during safety inspections on job sites.
  • Allow workers in the field to postpone work if they feel the heat poses too much of a threat. “We would empower our staff as to how far they were going to go to get the job done,” Akins said.
  • Ask customers to check periodically on workers in their buildings. This makes them feel included in a team effort. “People were very, very helpful with that,” Akins said.
  • If possible, postpone difficult jobs in hot spaces, like redoing ductwork in an attic, until cooler weather arrives. If a new system is installed and the new ductwork can wait until the fall, without causing performance or permit issues, that might be an option, Akins said, and customers are usually accommodating.

“Most people completely understood that, so we could go back in the fall and do the ductwork for them,” he said.