Heat Wave Building to Dangerous Levels

Sunday, July 12th 2015, 8:07 pm
By: News On 6

The dog days of summer are here. After a week of seemingly relentless showers and storms, the spigot has been turned off as a large and strong area of high pressure has settled into the Southern Plains. It’s the infamous “Heat Dome” that gives us extended periods of above-normal temperatures each summer and steers stormy weather around it. Just a reminder, high pressure generally produces calm, clear conditions because the air in the upper levels is sinking downward. Upward motion in the atmosphere allows clouds and storms to build.

                High pressure is the big story of the week with very little disruption in our weather pattern going forward. As you see in the current map at the jet stream level, that circle encasing our region is the high pressure center while the jet stream has retreated north to the northern U.S.  It’s on the periphery of this high pressure where a stormy pattern sets up through the next few days.  A few pieces of energy will try to flatten out the ridge and send a cold front or two our way.  Unfortunately, the strength of this high pressure (as if often the case in July) will keep this cooler surge to our north.  There’s only a limited opportunity for a few showers and storms making a run at eastern Oklahoma: late Tuesday into early Wednesday and again early next week.  I’m afraid those are the only two limited opportunities for relief from this heat.

                While temperatures may not even crest 100°, the issue will be the added moisture in the air. The nearly record-setting rainfall over the past two months have given us a “wetter” air mass and wetter soils that continue to supply our air with more and more moisture due to evaporation. That heat and moisture combo is a bad one. The heat wave this week would easily send our temperatures well over the century mark with less moisture in the air. Where our actual temperatures fall short, our heat index will soar. A Heat Advisory and perhaps Warning will remain in effect into midweek as heat index values range from 105° to 112°. That is extremely dangerous to all of our bodies, even the heartiest among us. Post-sunrise and around dusk will be the best times to work outdoors without causing heat stress.

                The heat indices will likely peak Monday into Tuesday, but still remain well over the century mark each afternoon through next weekend with little overall change in the weather pattern. There are signs the end of the week may be just as hot as Monday, but we may start to dry out just a smidge by then. Into next week, this pattern is likely to remain intact. A cold front may actually make headway into our area, modestly cooling our temperatures into the lower to mid-90s (near our seasonal average), but the heat won’t be going away anytime soon. I think we’ve reached that point in the summer where each day will be hot… it’s just a matter of what level of heat we’ll see that will vary. Until Labor Day (or a dramatically different weather pattern arrives), we’ll have to take the heat seriously. The 8 to 14 Day Outlook keeps the above-average heat around into late July.  At least our high water levels at area lakes and rivers will have ample time to settle into a more normal range!

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