A shift in the nationwide weather pattern will begin well before the start of the Independence Day holiday in parts of the United States. Some locations will experience their hottest weather of the season so far, while in other parts of the country, the humidity will build to typical summer levels and help increase the chance of thunderstorms, AccuWeather meteorologists say.
The number of people traveling 50 miles or more during the extended Independence Day weekend is projected to hit record levels, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). “Domestic travel over the long weekend will increase by 2.1 million people compared to 2022. This year’s projection surpasses the previous July 4th weekend record set in 2019 of 49 million travelers,” AAA said.
Read on to see which areas can expect heat, humidity and disruptive thunderstorms to be the theme for outdoor activities and travel for the weekend through the Fourth of July.
Much of the western U.S. has been experiencing mild to cool conditions during much of June. For example, most of California has been experiencing temperatures around 1 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit below the historical average for the first month. Downtown Los Angeles has been recording temperatures of 2.5 degrees below the historical average over the past four weeks.
It has been a similar story for the coastal Northwest and desert Southwest. However, a change is in the works that will not only bring the long-awaited first triple-digit temperature reading to Las Vegas, but temperatures over much of the region will swing to 5-15 degrees above average from this weekend through July Fourth as intense sunshine bakes the landscape.
Residents of Sacramento, California, and many other areas will experience some of the hottest conditions since last summer by this weekend when temperatures reach near 105 – and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures peak near 120.
Farther to the east, Texas has been experiencing extremely hot conditions but with higher humidity levels than much of the West will feel this weekend. Temperatures more typical of early July are in store for the Lone Star State.
“It will not feel like the 60s over much of Texas this weekend to Independence Day, but widespread highs in the low to mid-90s instead of the 100s should at least feel a little better,” AccuWeather On-Air Meteorologist Kristina Shalhoup said.
San Antonio has racked up close to a dozen days with highs at or above 100 for June with at least five days with highs of 104 to 105. The more typical heat coming up should help ease the strain on the power grid in the region. However, it will still be hot by most people’s standards.
Some of the heat that was in Texas will be displaced farther to the east but in a different form this weekend through the Independence Day holiday.
A light flow of air from the Gulf of Mexico will add moisture to the warmth, which will create cloud cover, and at the very least spotty thunderstorm activity in much of the eastern part of the nation. But, while some locations may have to deal with more than a garden variety storm and perhaps one active day for thunderstorms during the period from Saturday to Tuesday, the period will bring long stretches of rain-free conditions for most areas.
“Along with the likelihood of pop-up thunderstorms in the Southeast and the Northeast will be a noticeable increase in humidity levels from this weekend to next week,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. “It will feel like summertime, even though some areas may be a bit more thundery or showery than typical.”
The Southeast, including Atlanta, will be hot and humid, while much of the Northeast, including New York City, will be humid with near- to slightly-below-historical-average temperatures by early next week, according to Anderson.
The ring of fire, or rounds of thunderstorms that have been so frequent from the central and northern Plains to the Gulf Coast, will shift its position this weekend to early next week. This will be due to a collapse of the dome of heat in Texas.
“This weekend, thunderstorms are most likely to erupt from the central and southern High Plains, including in parts of Texas to the Ohio Valley, the interior Southeast and much of the Northeast,” Anderson said.
Within this zone from the central Plains to the Northeast, some of the storms can be quite feisty with the potential for localized damaging winds and flash flooding this weekend. Forecasters advise people to follow the popular saying, “when thunder roars, move indoors.” If thunder can be heard, there is a risk of a lightning strike.
While the downpours may seem untimely for outdoor activities, they can help ease drought conditions that have been brewing and building since the spring from parts of the Plains to the Northeast.
The drought may lead to local bans on not only fireworks but outdoor flames as well, especially in portions of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Illinois where the landscape is quite dry.
Since the drought has vastly improved in much of the West since last year, many cities and towns may be able to hold fireworks shows for the first time in years. In recent summers, officials throughout drought-affected regions instituted bans on fireworks and canceled scheduled fireworks shows due to the risk of wildfire ignition.
Smoke from Canadian forest fires has been filling the skies in recent weeks in the Midwest and Northeast. Fluctuations in steering winds have caused the smoke to come and go, retreating at times to higher levels in the atmosphere and occasionally reaching ground levels.
The shifting winds will continue to cause variations in the smoke and haze, in terms of the amount in the air over the Midwest and Northeast, through Independence Day and beyond. However, it is possible with steering breezes more from the southwest, rather than the northwest, that conditions may improve a bit.
The smoke produced by the Canadian wildfires has extended all the way across the North Atlantic and into Western Europe in recent days.
Produced in association with AccuWeather