WASHINGTON — The unusually hot, dry weather that has gripped the nation will not let up its stranglehold in the next few months, federal weather forecasters said Thursday.
And that means the heartland's "flash drought" will linger at least until around Halloween and spread farther north and east.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's outlook for August through October shows that nearly every state likely will have hotter-than-normal temperatures. Much of the Midwest is likely to be drier than normal, too.
New figures released Thursday show that the percentage of the country suffering from drought edged up from nearly 51 percent last week to more than 53 percent this week; the chunk of the country experiencing severe drought or worse rose in one week from 31 percent to 35 percent. Experts call it a flash drought because it developed in a matter of months, not multiple seasons.
"It's really unpleasant," said drought specialist Kelly Helm Smith at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Nebraska. She said relief "is not on the radar that I'm aware of."
NOAA is also forecasting more triple-digit temperatures for several days starting Saturday for much of the Midwest, with temperatures about 12 degrees hotter than normal. And that will make the drought even worse, forecasters say.