Will warmer weather have any impact on COVID-19?

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s hard to believe that we are now in the month of May, which means summer is right around the corner. As we continue our new normal and social distancing measures, many of us question when we will be able to return to our favorite summer pastimes. But what kind of weather will we see this summer? And does heat have any impact on COVID-19?

CBS 17’s Melissa Le Fevre spoke with Dr. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate and the Director of the University of Georgia’s Atmospheric Sciences Program, to answer some of these questions.

Most forecasts you typically see will focus on the next week or so, but who produces forecasts that go out weeks, or even months? The Climate Prediction Center issues those monthly to seasonal forecasts. They look at a wide range of model information and give a probabilistic forecast with respect to temperature and precipitation during a give time period.

“Now they don’t give specific forecasts, Dr. Shepherd said, “they give sort of warmer than normal, colder than normal, wetter than normal, drier than normal.”

The CPC’s outlook for June, July and August (also known as meteorological summer), shows most of the country experiencing above normal temperatures. Here in the Triangle, we’ve seen both above and below normal temperatures in April. Other parts of the country have already had a taste of brutal summer temperatures.

“Some of the April temperatures in south Florida have looked like May temperatures. Even in the Desert Southwest, they were pushing or close to or maybe even reached 100 degrees in parts of the Southwestern US. This is a bit early for those places, but a harbinger of things to come.”

But does an increase in heat and humidity have a direct effect on COVID-19? Unfortunately, there isn’t a definitive correlation between heat and the new virus.

“What I will say is in either of those places they’ve been warmer than normal in April but yet coronavirus has still been a problem there. So it sort of explodes this notion that hot or warmer temperatures will eradicate the virus,” Dr. Shepherd said.

He goes on to say that, “The CDC is very clear that we don’t know what temperatures will do for coronavirus. There’s some speculation, but the CDC says there’s not a conclusive answer to whether warm temperatures or hot temperatures are going to completely eradicate or mitigate this virus.”

It’s important for us to remember that research on COVID-19 will take time, and in the meantime we need to continue to do our part in flattening the curve, no matter the season.

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