There will be no escape from the heat in Texas, which has endured a historic hot summer. Temperatures there are forecast to remain above normal – with mostly triple-digit highs – for the whole week.
The heatwave originated in the Pacific Northwest, where it set life expectancy records in Seattle and Portland.
Combined with a historically severe drought, the heat has fueled dangerous conditions for the spread of wildfires in Northern California, where the newly ignited McKinney Fire has devoured the landscape. The fire, located in the Klamath National Forest, has burned 51,468 acres and has absolutely no cause.
As the heat wave rises eastward, it will bring triple-digit heat to 43 million Americans. Heat advisories have been issued in the Plains states and it is likely that extreme heat warnings will be in place in some cities in the coming days.
Records crumble in Northwest and Northern California amid escalating fire danger
Relief is finally arriving in the Pacific Northwest after a week of intense heat, although another day is forecast for triple-digit highs in eastern parts of Washington and Oregon.
Seattle sets the record for the longest stretch of road with a peak at or above 90 degrees. The previous record was a tie between two 5-day periods in 2015 and 1981. It hit 94 degrees on Tuesday, 91 degrees on Wednesday, 94 degrees on Thursday and Friday, and 95 degrees on Saturday and Sunday.
The record was reached for the 5th day in a row with a high temperature of 90°+ in Seattle today. Average high temperature for 5 consecutive days 93.8° (94,91,94,95.95).
Average high temperature for the other 5 days.
95.0° 8 / 7-11 / 1981
91.6° 7 / 1-5 / 2015
The hottest 6-day period in Seattle, 6/24-29/2021, averaging 94.8° high. #wawx
– NWS Seattle (@NWSSettle) July 31, 2022
Portland also experienced an exceptionally long heat wave on record, with a whole week at 95 degrees Celsius or higher ending on Sunday. The previous record was a tie between a six-day period in 1941 and another in 1981. The city’s average July high was 81.8 degrees, and three days from July 25 to The end of the month reached the century mark.
In Medford, Ore., it was as hot as 114 degrees on Friday, just one degree above its all-time high. Tri-Cities Airport near Kennewick, Wash., had peak temperatures of 110 degrees on Thursday, 112 degrees on Friday and 109 degrees on Saturday.
Hot weather across the West has fueled wildfires in Oregon and Washington, but the McKinney fire in Northern California is the most severe in the region. It burned an area nearly twice the size of Disney World because the high temperatures helped dry the landscape, and the ground was full of dry fuel to burn.
Several small fires began to be discovered this weekend. Crews have been deployed and are working on the issue, but we need your help. We don’t have the resources to tackle fires caused by careless humans. Never leave a campfire unattended and not where they are authorized. pic.twitter.com/ab1CDlUoCj
– Forest Service NW (@ForestServiceNW) July 31, 2022
How arid is that part of California? The ERC, or Energy Release Component, is 97 percent. It is a number related to the amount of fuel available per unit area for combustion. Values above 80 percent reflect dangerous wildfire trends; at 97 percent, there could be a wildfire outbreak.
High temperatures, fueled by the effects of anthropogenic climate change, contribute to larger and more intense wildfires. 18 of the 20 largest wildfires in California have occurred in the past two decades.
Extreme temperatures fall to the east in the short term
As the Pacific Northwest heat wave dissipates, the region responsible for the high pressure – or heat dome – will sink to the southeast and be absorbed by another heat dome stretching from the Four Corners to Florida. The combined heat domes will sometimes bend to the northeast in the coming days.
Heat advisories have been issued across the Plains, Ozarks and Corn Belt, including St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, Sioux Falls and the Twin Cities.
The core of the heat will settle into the central states on Tuesday and Wednesday, and could extend into the Northeast on Thursday.
Here are the daily hot spots:
- Multiple record highs of 90 to 105 degrees are forecast in the eastern Pacific Northwest and the Northern Mountains from eastern Oregon to central Montana, including Billings, Helena, Great Falls and Missoula.
- Triple-digit highs are forecast for much of the area from Texas (away from the coast) to western Nebraska. While the predicted high is only in the mid-90s in Missouri, heat indices are forecast to reach between 100 and 110, including in St. Louis.
- Highs of at least 100 degrees are predicted from Texas (away from the coast) to South Dakota, with a heat index of 105 to 110.
- The 90s highs are forecast to cover much of the South and Midwest, with a large area with a heat index between 100 and 105, including Dallas, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City, St. Louis and Little Rock. A flirting heat index of 100 can extend as far north as Minneapolis.
- Heat is concentrated from Texas to Illinois, with widely forecast highs from the 90s to 105s, and a heat index of 100 to 110. The heat index could reach 100 as far north as Chicago and Detroit.
- The heat spread to the Northeast. Boston and Hartford, Conn., Expect both to hit 96 degrees on Thursday, and Albany, NY, could soar to 98. That would set a record in 1955. Mid-90s highs are forecast from DC to New York, with a heat index of 5 to 10 degrees higher.
- Much of the Southeast will stay low through the mid-90s, but sweltering humidity will push the heat index above the 90s or even close to 100.
- On the Plains, the upper 90s or the lower 100s can occur. Dallas, Austin and San Antonio will see peaks of 103 or 104 degrees.
Plateau to continue baking in a longer range
Furthermore, a view of the extended range, suggests that this heat dome could weaken for a week or more, possibly in mid-August, when it consolidates over the Plains.
Here’s how hot it can get:
- The 90s top to bottom 100 stretched from Texas all the way to the Canadian Border, peaking at around 102 degrees in Rapid City, SD That would set a record set in 1964.
- Some cooler air sinks into the Northern Plains, but the highs in the 90s and lows in the 100s stretch from Texas to Iowa.