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Hot Appetizer?

Low 90s today, and it may be an ugly summer for energy bills.

Hitting 90 isn't all that unusual in May. On average it happens at least once a year -- 12 times in 1991 -- and today we won't come close to the May 26 record of 96.

But the temperature is expected to crest past 90 this afternoon, and it will be August hot in a year in which the trees already have that summer look and it seems that nature is fast-forwarding everything.

So if it is this hot the week before Memorial Day and the start of the meteorological summer, what's it going to be like during the real summer?

Two of the major private companies, Accu-Weather Inc., based in State College, and WSI Corp., in Massachusetts, are calling for it to be significantly warmer around here than last summer, which, as you may recall, wasn't all that bad. June and July were slightly cooler than normal, and August slightly warmer.

Most of the nation east of the Plains will be warmer than normal in June, according to Accu-Weather's Joe Bastardi. But relative to long-term normals he expects August to be the steamiest month of the summer.

WSI's Todd Crawford also has it warmer than normal here in June and August. Nationwide, WSI is calling for energy use to be about 6 percent above average.

Both Crawford and Bastardi are looking for a major, major changes in the equatorial Pacific, which already are under way.

Through the winter, surface waters out that way were well above average, a condition known as El Nino. Those waters are cooling rapidly, and the ocean may well be slipping into its cool phase, La Nina.

Aside from affecting the weather in North American -- weather moves west to east -- the change could well have a profound impact on the hurricane season, and we'll be looking at that this afternoon.