Scorching heat bakes the Great Plains with highs of 115 degrees



While historic temperatures are baking in Europe, with readings as high as 115 degrees in Portugal, it’s just as hot in the United States. Sixty million Americans could experience triple-digit temperatures over the next few days, with the plains reaching highs of 115 degrees and heat index values ​​exceeding 120 degrees.

Dallas and Oklahoma City are both expected to reach at least 108 degrees Tuesday afternoon.

Heat advisories and excessive heat warnings cover the plains, where the combination of record heat and tropical humidity will put dangerous strains on the human body for those who cannot escape the heat. This poses a serious threat to the elderly, the homeless and others without adequate access to cooling shelters.

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“Extreme heat and humidity will greatly increase the risk of heat-related illnesses,” wrote the National Weather Service, “especially for those who work or participate in outdoor activities.”

The heat is centered on the southern plains and south-central United States, but it has already managed to deliver a record high of 107 degrees in Salt Lake City on Sunday. In Montana, Glasgow had one of its 10 hottest days on record at 108 degrees.

A sprawling ridge of high pressure known as the thermal dome is responsible for the high temperatures. It brings clear skies, descending air and abundant sunshine. It also diverts the jet stream north towards Canada, deflecting any major storm systems or bad weather. This is why heat domes often cause drought.

Tuesday will likely be the hottest for next week, although the above century highs will persist for the foreseeable future. Oklahoma City is expected to hit 109 degrees on Tuesday, the hottest temperature since July 20, 2018. The earlier state capital has only hit 109 degrees 19 times since 1890.

“We had a day in 2018 where we hit 109,” said Vivek Mahale, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norman, Okla. “We’ll be around 104 tomorrow [Wednesday]but even so, we are going to be 5-7 degrees above average for the rest of this week.

In southwestern Oklahoma along the HE Bailey Turnpike, high temperatures are expected to peak at around 112 degrees Tuesday afternoon. Since July 1912, this has only happened 20 times, making the heat an event about once every five years.

It’s a similar story at Wichita Falls, just across the Red River in north-central Texas, where a reading of 112 degrees is also projected.

The extreme heat, locally reaching 110 degrees, is bleeding farther south toward the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, where DFW International Airport is tied for its hottest day on record Monday. The morning low of 86 degrees and afternoon high of 109 averaged 97.5 degrees, tying the record set on August 3, 2011. Those 86 degrees were also tied for a record low.

Fort Worth’s Meacham International Airport soared to 110 degrees on Monday.

Dallas is still expected to hit 109 on Tuesday and 108 on Wednesday. So far this month, DFW has already had 14 days of 100 degrees or more.

Besides the magnitude of the heat, the duration is equally alarming.

“I would say right now the longevity” is the most impressive, Mahale said. “The biggest impact on people is persistence.”

The heat itself is unusual – around 5-10 degrees above average in places like Oklahoma and Kansas and up to 15 degrees above average in the Lone Star State. Even Houston is expected to top around 100 degrees every afternoon until at least early next week.

In Austin, highs in the range of 102-106 degrees are expected at least early next week. The same is true in San Antonio, Tulsa and Wichita.

Even more problematic are overnight lows, which in many areas will not drop below the mid-80s. in its nocturnal cooling period. Highs above 100 degrees will also extend throughout the desert southwest.

In southeast Texas and along the Gulf Coast, dew points near 70 — indicative of the amount of tropical humidity in the air — will lead to heat indices approaching or exceeding 110 degrees. Farther north and west on the Interstate 35 corridor, comparatively less humidity will result in fire weather issues. Red flag warnings are in place for a wide swath of Texas and Oklahoma, where relative humidity could drop below 25% and winds can blow up to 30 mph.

“A red flag warning means a dangerous combination of weather and dry vegetation is expected within 24 hours, favoring the rapid growth and spread of any wildfire,” the National Weather Service in Tulsa wrote. Several fires are already burning in the south-central plains.

These conditions could “contribute to extreme fire behavior,” the weather service echoed Norman. According to the US Drought Monitor, more than half of Texas is experiencing severe or high-level “exceptional” drought.

“We haven’t had any significant rainfall in a little while,” Mahale said. “Many of our stations have had no rainfall of at least a quarter inch for 30 to 40 days, and only isolated to widely scattered storms over the past month. Drying vegetation is making it easier for crops to warm. You don’t get much evapotranspiration and things dry out.


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