The Washington Post

U.S. bakes under extreme heat, half of population under heat advisory or warning

This image shows the NOAA North America Model temperature at 2m above the surface (~6 feet) for July 12, 2011 at 5 p.m. ET. (NOAA Environmental Visuaiization Laboratory)

Almost all of the south central and southeast states have seen heat indices exceed 105 degrees Tuesday afternoon. Some sample readings at 3 p.m.: Little Rock 109, St. Louis 109, Raleigh 105, Memphis 111, Charleston 108.

In recent days, the searing heat has set scores of new record high temperatures across the eastern two thirds of the country. Yesterday alone, 41 record highs were set including Ft. Smith, Ar. (107), Indianapolis, In. (96), Louisville, Ky. (97), Watertown, Ny. (90), Altoona, Pa. (94), and Charleston, WV (95).

Record high minimum temperatures have been more even pervasive, offering little nighttime relief from the oppressive afternoon heat. On Monday, 132 record high lows were set.

In Louisville, Kentucky this morning, the low dropped to a mere 84 degrees. Meteorologist Eric Fisher at The Weather Channel tweeted: “That. Is. Filthy. Heat Index was still above 100 at 5am.”

Some of the most remarkable heat occurred on in central Plains on July 9 and 10. Oklahoma City reached 110 degrees on the 9th, tying it’s all-time high for the month. Wichita, Kansas rose to 111 degrees on the 10th, its hottest temperature in 30 years. See CapitalClimate for more on the records which extended into Arkansas and Missouri.

In both Oklahoma City (13 days) and Dallas (10 days), the mercury has reached 100 or better for at least ten straight days. Hot weather is predicted to persist there through the weekend, at least.

Across the country during the month of July, record highs have outnumbered record lows 349 to 68 (or more than 5:1).

Heat index forecast for Sunday. (NOAA)

But as AccuWeather’s Joe Lundberg reminded his readers earlier today, it’s not hot everywhere. Montana and parts of the Pacific Northwest are running below average this month. And Seattle-based meteorologist Cliff Mass cautioned his readers “the cool pattern is back and it isn’t going away soon.”


Brutal heat grips South and Midwest with no relief in sight

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.


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