by Sean Morris
The upper-level area of high pressure, referred to as a high pressure “ridge,” that has dominated the weather pattern over much of the Midwest this summer is shifting westward this week. This means cooler, wetter conditions for areas suffering from the record drought that is plaguing most of the Great Plains and Midwest with hot, dry conditions west of the Rockies.
As the ridge shifts westward, hot, dry conditions will also spread toward the Pacific Coast. Easterly winds will push cooler air offshore in the Pacific Northwest later this week. The cooler air will be replaced by hot, dry air across coastal sections of Washington and Oregon. Portland will see high temperatures in the upper 90s and even pushing past the century mark in some areas of western Oregon by the end of the week. Seattle will see high temperatures in the lower 90s which is about ten to 15 degrees above normal afternoon highs in late August. Fortunately, the heat will not last long, and cooler conditions are expected to move into Oregon and Washington by the weekend.
The return of hot, dry air across the West Coast will not help firefighters battling blazes across the area that erupted on Monday afternoon. Red Flag Warnings are now in effect for much of Montana, areas of Idaho and much of Wyoming. Winds are expected to be light across the area, which is good news for crews trying to contain the blazes.
Extreme heat is in the forecast for the Desert Southwest. The scorching temperatures have prompted Excessive Heat Warnings in southern California and southwestern Arizona. High temperatures are expected to push upwards to 110 degrees in Phoenix on Wednesday, with high temperatures continuing to push above the century mark well into the weekend.