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July 4th outlook: Blistering heat in offing for much of US; Unrelenting storms to drench southern US

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
June 28, 2018, 7:19:11 AM EDT

Much of the United States can expect hot and humid weather for the Fourth of July, while storms are likely to drench a portion of the South and rattle parts of the Upper Midwest and Rockies.

Storms may hamper travel and activities at times, while AAA estimates that 46.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from their homes for the July Fourth holiday.

Static July 4 US

Fourth of July to be as hot as a firecracker in many areas

While it will be early July, temperatures are likely to be several degrees above average over a large part of the nation.

Highs are projected to be within a few degrees of 90 F along much of the Interstate 95 corridor from southern New England to Florida and a vast area of the Midwest. However, the heat wave forecast to peak this weekend into Monday will be winding down.

Highs are likely to be in the middle to upper 90s across much of the lower Mississippi Valley and close to 100 in a large part of Texas and lower elevations of the interior Southwest.

The coolest locations will be right along the Pacific coast, especially in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, where temperatures may be no better than the 60s.

Highs will be in the 60s and 70s over the high country of the Rockies, Cascades and Sierra Nevada, as well as parts of northern New England.

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In much of the low country and intermediate elevations of the West, dry conditions and heat of the day will raise the risk of wildfires. Always use power equipment and open flames with extreme care and be sure to check for restrictions on their use with local authorities.

As always, it will be cooler in the water

Ocean water temperatures are sufficiently warm for safe swimming along the Gulf coast, southern Atlantic coast, and much of the mid-Atlantic beaches.

Waters are likely to remain chilly along the New England coast and much of the Pacific coast, as well as lakes Michigan, Huron and Ontario and far too cold for swimming in Lake Superior.

Cold water shock can occur in temperatures of 77 and below.

Summer storms to provide natural fireworks in parts of the nation

Heat and afternoon and evening summer storms tend to go together. However, not all hot weather breeds storms, but some trouble spots are anticipated for July Fourth.

A few of these storms may pop up and pester outings and fireworks displays in parts of the Northeast and central and southern Appalachians.

However, one area where showers and thunderstorms may focus on is from the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and lower Ohio valleys to the upper Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts. Storms in this area may be repetitive, drenching and gusty.

An area where storms may become rather robust is over parts of Montana, the Dakotas to northern Minnesota and the vicinity of Lake Superior.

A few storms are also likely to pop up over the Rockies during the afternoon hours, which will be a concern for hikers and campers.

Be sure to take thunderstorms seriously when outdoors

With tens of millions expected to be outdoors during July Fourth, thunderstorms pose a serious risk.

While dozens of miles may separate each storm over the Rockies, they have the potential to catch inexperienced hikers or visitors to the region by surprise. Hikers in the rugged terrain of the West should not wait until thunder roars, but move down the mountain at the first sign of towering clouds.

Remember, being on the beach, in an open field, walking along a suburban street or on a ridge are among unsafe places to be during a thunderstorm. Never stand under a tall tree or a small group of trees for shelter.

Be sure to seek shelter indoors or in a hard-top vehicle at the first sign of the storm, including the first rumble of thunder. Golf carts, bus stops, gazebos, porches and picnic pavilions are not considered to be adequate shelter during thunderstorms.

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