The Washington Post

Relentless heat still baking south and south central U.S. – mid-Atlantic catches a lucky break

The almost-9000 heat records set in July, represented by dots, form a nearly complete image of the contiguous United States. ( NOAA Environmental Visualization Lab )

Through yesterday, Dallas, Texas has seen temperatures reach at least 100ºF for the past 34 straight days, with no end in sight. Dallas needs only 8 more consecutive days of 100+ temperatures to tie its record of 42 days, dating back to the summer of 1980.

Forecast for Dallas, Texas over the next four days. (National Weather Service)

Other parts of Texas have experienced even longer streaks of triple-digit temperatures. Wichita Falls, for example, has already logged a record 44 consecutive days at or above 100ºF after setting a record high of 111 Thursday. If that’s not enough, consider this: Wichita Falls would have had an astonishing 64-day streak of 100+ temperatures by now, were it not for June 2, when the high only hit 98ºF (h/t Paul Douglas).

Other notable temperature records across the south and central U.S. since August 1:

* Little Rock, Arkansas recorded an all-time high of 114 degrees on Aug. 3, breaking the previous record of 112 from 1986.
* Dallas, Texas tied its all-time record high low temperature of 86ºF on Aug. 4.
* Charleston, South Carolina set an all-time record high minimum temperature with a low of 83 Aug. 4.
* Ozark, Arkansas shattered its all-time record high Aug 3, reaching 114 degrees, besting its old record by six degrees.
* Indianapolis hit 90 degrees for the 19th consecutive day Thursday. That ties the streak of for most 90+ day set August 8- 26, 1936
* Atoka, Oklahoma reached 115 Thursday, an all-time high

Since August began, more than 1283 daily record high temperature records (max and min) have been set compared to just 44 record low temperature records. That includes 80 all-time record hot days and nights (max and min record highs). Of Thursday’s 206 heat records, 40 were for readings 110 degrees or higher.

As is often the case during periods of excessive heat, the combination of heat and humidity also led to heat index values well over 110ºF Thursday, including 113 in Little Rock, 120 in Mobile, 122 in Memphis, and 114 in Charleston. On Wednesday, the heat index in Poplar Bluff, Missouri soared to 126.

When will the heat let up?

Long-range forecasts suggest that the high-pressure system responsible for the hot, sinking air locked over the south/central U.S. will remain in place well into August, minimizing thunderstorm development in a region already suffering from exceptional drought conditions. According to the National Weather Service, a cold front crossing the Central Plains on Wednesday has helped diminish the extent of excessive heat affecting parts of the Midwest and the northern Plains since July—little consolation for the southern tier of the U.S. still under excessive heat warnings. Another cold front expected early next week might knock down temperatures slightly, but residents of these states will likely have to wait until the start of meteorological autumn for a more noticeable cool-down.


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