Since late last week, a punishing heat dome has sprawled over the southeastern United States, resulting in some of the hottest May weather this region has experienced. And the heat wave still has a couple of days left.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, numerous cities from Florida to North Carolina established or tied record highs for May, including:
- Gainesville, Fla.: 102 degrees (Monday)
- Jacksonville, Fla: 100 degrees (Monday, tie)
- Savannah, Ga.: 102 degrees (Sunday)
- Augusta, Ga.: 101 degrees (Sunday)
- Macon, Ga.: 100 degrees (Sunday)
- Charleston, S.C.: 100 degrees (Sunday)
- Wilmington, N.C.: 100 degrees (Sunday)
In Augusta, Macon, Savannah and Charleston, it was the earliest instance touching the century mark on record. Temperatures in this region have generally been about 15 degrees above average since the heat wave began.
Although not in triple digits, Atlanta has soared to at least 94 degrees the past four days (through Monday), the second longest May streak on record. This year will move into the top spot (passing 1941′s record of six such days) if this heat continues through Thursday as predicted.
Sunday’s temperatures in the Southeast were the highest in the nation, exceeding levels in the normally stifling desert Southwest. Five locations in South Carolina and Georgia surged to 103 degrees.
On the cool side of the seesawing jet stream, the Southwest’s customary heat was held in check. On Monday, Phoenix’s temperatures rose to only 79 degrees, tying its coolest high temperature on record for May 27.
The sizzling weather in the Southeast is predicted to persist until Thursday. “Additional records are likely to be broken in the next several days with all time monthly records in jeopardy as well,” the National Weather Service office serving much of central Georgia wrote Tuesday.
Some of the heat is forecast to bleed north into the Mid-Atlantic region Wednesday, including Washington, where temperatures will reach their highest levels of the year: in the low 90s.
By Friday, a cool front will nudge the heat dome south, bringing relief to the Mid-Atlantic. But south of the Carolinas, the penetration of cooler air will weaken and relief will be rather modest. In Atlanta, highs are still forecast to reach the low 90s Friday through the weekend.
The Southeast isn’t the only part of the Northern Hemisphere coping with abnormally hot May weather. Saroma, Japan, soared to 103.1 degrees (39.5 Celsius) on Sunday, the nation’s highest May temperature ever recorded.
These kinds of hot weather extremes are an expectation in a warming world as heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide continue to build up in the atmosphere as a result of human activity.