Month-Long Heat Wave Shows No Signs of Waning

June 17, 2011; 4:32 PM ET
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"While heat is in abundance, rain has been a sparse commodity for many"


The Dog Days of Summer came early this year for residents of the southern Plains and Deep South, and it doesn't look like they are going anywhere anytime soon.

Temperatures pushing near and, in many cases, above the century mark will be common through early next week for millions, while many others will remain locked in the 90s for the foreseeable future.

For some, it must feel like forever since it was below 90, or raining for that matter. Almost, but not quite.

Parched Earth

By definition, a heat wave in the Northeast is three days or more at 90 degrees or above. While applying this to the South is a stretch, where average temperatures are already at or above this level, the long duration of these temperatures alone is enough to declare this an unusual event.

Virtually everyone from Texas north into Oklahoma and nearby parts of the central Plains and then east through the Deep South has been at or above 90 degrees each afternoon for weeks, and in some cases for more than a month.

In this May 19, 2011 photo, Tyler Gray stirs up a cloud of dust as he pulls a tiller across a dry cotton field near Lubbock, Texas, trying to break up hardened ground. (AP Photo/Betsy Blaney)

Even more impressive, Laredo, Texas, has cracked the century mark each day since May 18, a stretch of 30 days and counting! Not to be outdone, Wichita Falls, Texas, has been 100 or higher each afternoon since June 2.

To present statistics and records from each city would certainly be overload. However, here are a few eye-popping statistics from a very long and very intense early season heat spell:

--Temperatures have been at or above 90 since the last full week of May at countless reporting stations across states including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

--Laredo, Texas, has already recorded 52 days of temperatures at or above 100 so far this year. By this point last year, there were only 13 such days.

--Tallahassee, Fla., recorded a high of 105 on Wednesday, setting a new all-time record high for any month.

--Several locations have set record highs for the month of June. Included in this is Houston, which reached 105 on both June 5 and 6.

--Virtually every location is averaging 5 to 10 degrees above normal so far this month. Wichita Falls, Texas, is an astounding 9.9 degrees warmer than normal, while Columbus, Ga., isn't much farther behind at 7.4 degrees above normal.

While heat is in abundance, rain has been a sparse commodity for many. Some locations have recorded no appreciable rain for weeks, keeping much of the southern Plains and Deep South in the "extreme" to "exceptional" drought category according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

And The Heat Goes On...

A large part of the Lone Star State, Oklahoma and even far southern Kansas will rise above 100 through the weekend. The typically hotter areas across West Texas and the Upper Rio Grande Valley will easily exceed 110 each day.

Farther east through the lower Mississippi valley and Deep South, mid to upper 90s will remain the rule, with heat likely to expand north and east to the Ohio Valley and Appalachians next week. However, throw in the humidity and AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures will easily exceed 100.

Only by the middle of next will temperatures begin to back off over the southern Plains, as the persistent and dominant ridge of high pressure responsible for the heat begins to erode a bit. Accompanying this could be a few thunderstorms over Texas, but highs should still manage to easily exceed 95 in most places any given day.

Residents are certainly well aware the Dog Days are likely here to stay, but it has been the early beginning and long duration of this year's incarnation that have many trying to remember when it has ever been this bad.

Oh, and the official first day of summer is next week.



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