Saturday, August 7, 2010
Recap of the record heat wave - more on the horizon?
The Mid-South suffered through a heat wave of record proportions this past week, the hottest since 2007. Due to a massive ridge of high pressure over the area, temperatures climbed into the triple digits for four consecutive days at Memphis International Airport and overnight lows remained in the 80s for five days as well. The map above (courtesy NWS-Memphis) depicts the 500mb (or about 18,000 feet) level of the atmosphere at mid-day on Tuesday, in the middle of the heat wave. The very strong ridge of high pressure is depicted square over the region, resulting in the extreme heat.
Accompanying the heat was moisture-laden air, that resulted in high dewpoint values (and high relative humidity), creating heat indices that routinely eclipsed 110 degrees and topped 120 in some locations. The high heat indices resulted in Excessive Heat Warnings for the entire area for several days. In fact, much of the southeast and south-central U.S. was under Heat Advisories or Excessive Heat Watches or Warnings by mid-week (see the image below showing the heat-related advisories on Wednesday morning).
Below is a summary of the high and low temperatures for August 1-5, with records set or tied marked with an asterisk (*). The all-time warmest low temperature for Memphis was tied at 84 degrees on the 3rd.
High/Low Temperatures for Memphis
August 1 - 98 / 82*
August 2 - 100* / 80 *
August 3 - 103 * / 84 *
August 4 - 104 * / 83 *
August 5 - 101 / 78
With the passage of a cold front on Friday, much of the Mid-South got a slight reprieve from the heat, but the break will be short-lived as another ridge of high pressure builds over the region beginning tonight. The ridge will once again help to push temperatures into the upper 90s and towards the century mark beginning Sunday.
Though it doesn't appear this heat wave will be quite as intense, highs near 100 will be possible throughout the next week, with lows once again only dropping to near 80 in metro areas. High temperature records may not be broken, but overnight lows could be. After last week's heat, the problem this coming week could be more in it's duration rather than intensity. Heat is a silent killer and the dangers multiply as the hot days tick by. Please take all necessary precautions this coming week to prevent heat illnesses and check on the elderly, very young, and your pets frequently.
If you are tired of all of this "heat talk," check out the first winter weather outlook of the year, issued by Accuweather.
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