As summer wears on a significant drought is building out west. Believe it or not, a western drought can have a pretty big influence on our weather pattern here in the Ohio Valley.
The longer the drought continues, the drier the ground and the air become. That hot, dry air doesn't just stay in one place; air is always moving. When we look at the jet stream pattern in the summer, there's a northern flow (which you can see highlighted in the image below) and a southern arm that's not as strong in this image. That flow pattern brings us air from out west and starts setting up a ridge over our part of the country. You can click here to learn more about a ridge and what it does to our weather.
When we see a drought develop out west, we start to watch more closely for drought conditions in the Dakotas. The flow pattern brings us air from the Northern Plains, so if the air there is especially hot and dry, that's the kind of air we can expect to get here.
That hot, dry air doesn't create an instant drought here, though we will need to watch closely if we get in another dry spell. Since we get a lot of flow up from the Deep South, too, we still have moisture at play in our environment. It will, though, help our temperatures climb. These are the situations where we could see a significant warm up or even a longer heat wave.