Sweltering heat to engulf West, southern Plains by midweek

Sweltering heat to engulf West, southern Plains by midweek
Residents from the California valleys to the Mississippi River are bracing for temperatures near- to well-above 100 degrees Fahrenheit expected to last into mid-July.

Brutal heat has been baking the southwestern U.S. since early last week. Phoenix has experienced high temperatures of 110 degrees or more since July 4, and cities like Las Vegas and Bakersfield, Calif., soared above 100 degrees for several days.

Excessive heat warnings were put into place until Monday evening, from Southern California to southeast Arizona. Heat advisories on Saturday extended even farther east, from southern New Mexico to the Florida Gulf Coast.

A northward bend in the jet stream will continue to help keep the heat locked over the Southwest and also allow it to nudge eastward into the south-central U.S. through the middle of the week.

High pressure settling under this jet stream will limit showers and thunderstorms, leaving communities to bake in the unobstructed sunshine.

“Ongoing and worsening drought over the southwestern United States will also continue to contribute to well-above-average heat into early week,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

Temperatures will continue to soar as much as 10 to 15 degrees above normal in California through Sunday, and in other places in the southwest until Monday or Tuesday.

Tuscon, Arizona, and Las Vegas are each forecast to peak above 110 degrees, while Phoenix, Arizona, and Death Valley are forecast to be near 120 degrees.

Daily record highs will be challenged, but temperatures could even come to within a few degrees of all-time record highs set as far back as the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures will be several degrees higher in the sun, and could be as much as 20 degrees higher or more above the actual air temperature.

While a few locations could see some thunderstorms firing courtesy of an uptick in monsoon moisture, most locations will stay dry until a more robust push of moisture comes in around midweek. The persistent heat, and lack of rainfall in many of these areas will continue to worsen any drought conditions, and keep brush dry. Both could make it easier for any spark to quickly become a wildfire.

As the week progresses, the heat will spill eastward into the southern Plains. Amarillo and Lubbock in northwestern Texas will top out at 105 degrees for at least a couple of days early week, more than 10 degrees above the norm in mid-July. Even as far north as Dodge City and Wichita, Kans., will reach over 5 degrees above normal into the upper 90s into Wednesday.

Higher humidity levels, soil moisture and scattered thunderstorm activity will prevent 110- to 120-degree heat in the southern Plains, but it is possible that some locations approach the century mark. Widespread highs in the middle 90s are likely.

Still, even this lesser heat will be sweltering, and can be dangerous for strenuous outdoor activities. Without remaining constantly hydrated and avoiding being outside in the afternoon, heatstroke can easily sneak up on some people.

“When combined with higher humidity levels, it could feel worse to some people when compared to that of the Southwest, especially in heavily urbanized areas where there is little breeze during the afternoon and early evening hours,” Sosnowski added.

Behind the extreme heat, near-normal temperatures will fill in across the West, and even parts of the northern Plains. Residents should still be vigilant with remaining hydrated and protecting their skin from the sun’s strong, summer rays.

The dome of above-normal temperatures is not expected to wane once it reaches the center of the country. The pattern will shift late week, allowing residents from the Great Lakes to the Carolinas to bake in late-summer heat.

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