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Southeastern US to endure lengthy streak with highs nearing 100, challenging records from a century ago

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
May 24, 2019, 11:35:30 AM EDT

Temperatures approaching the century mark amid the hottest weather yet this year will challenge records in many places that date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s Friday into at least Memorial Day.

Temperatures are forecast to approach the century mark as areas from Alabama and Tennessee to Georgia, northern and central Florida, the Carolinas and parts of Virginia endure their hottest weather yet this season.

"In what has been a warmer-than-normal May to date across the Southeast, temperatures will take a notable turn upwards through the end of the week and into Memorial Day weekend," AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido said.

SE Friday May 23

After an already sizzling day on Thursday, the heat will intensify throughout the Southeast on Friday with the heat wave holding firm through at least Memorial Day.

"A cold front will put the brakes on the soaring heat on Saturday from Richmond, Virginia, to Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski, "but the heat will come soaring back in these areas on Sunday."

Cities such as Montgomery, Alabama; Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia; Pensacola, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, Florida; Columbia, South Carolina; Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia, will experience highs in the middle and upper 90s to lower 100s.

"Most high temperature records across the region stand in the 90s, so these cities are expected to consistently challenge records during the heat wave," Vido said.

Heat wave May 23

On Friday, the temperature in Augusta, Georgia, could hit the daily record of 98 set all the way back in 1878.

Montgomery, Alabama, will challenge or break its daily record highs from the 1910s through the entire extended holiday weekend.

"A dome of high pressure will strengthen and position itself over the Southeast, promoting the generally hot and dry pattern," Vido said.

While the hot, dry conditions will provide great weather for cookouts and swimming at local lakes, pools or beaches, it can prove to be dangerous for those who do not take necessary precautions while outdoors.

"AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures above 100 due to sunshine and moderate humidity levels can lead to heat-related illnesses, particularly in older adults and children," Vido said.

Precautions will need to be taken in order to lessen this risk.

"Residents should be sure to leave outdoor activities for the cooler parts of the day (the morning and late evening) and find cool spots to retreat to during the heat of the day," AccuWeather Meteorologist Courtney Travis said.

Light-colored clothing, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen and plenty of water will be needed by anyone spending time outdoors.

Never leave a child or pet in a sealed vehicle for any length of time. Avoid playgrounds directly in the sun from the mid-morning through the afternoon hours when the equipment can be hot enough to cause serious burns.

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The hot weather may lead to an early boom for business at beach communities, especially since it coincides with a busy holiday weekend, according to Vido.

While coastal communities will not be as hot as inland areas, residents and visitors should not anticipate much cooling even near the water.

"Even going to the beaches will provide only minimal relief in some locations," Travis said.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will likely hit the 90-degree mark on Friday and then again later in the holiday weekend. Temperatures soar well into the 90s and even to 100 from Charleston, South Carolina, to Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida.

Three of the eight 2019 NCAA Softball Tournament Super Regionals will be played in the Southeast amid this heat wave.

"The first two games in the series at Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Gainesville and Tallahassee, Florida, will be during the evening hours when the heat will not be as intense," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys. "However, if Game 3 is needed to complete any of the series, these games are scheduled during the hottest time of the day (in the afternoon) on Saturday and Sunday."

Memorial Day May 23

Officials may want to consider delaying those games, if warranted, until later in the day. If that decision is not made, players will have to take extra precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses. That is especially true for catchers.

Residents across the Southeast should also be extremely vigilant with grills and any fireworks. As the heat intensifies, the vegetation across the Southeast will further dry out and heighten the risk for brush fires.

Two brush fires ignited but were quickly extinguished by firefighters around Augusta, Georgia, on Tuesday, according to WJBF.

The Yellow Bluff Fire that has charred 400 acres north of Jacksonville, Florida, led to the closure of a seven-mile stretch of I-95 in its vicinity on Thursday. The highway was opened on Friday morning, but officials warn the road can be closed again if conditions warrant.

The stagnant weather pattern can trap smoke from any brush fires or pollutants in the urban areas, leading to poor air quality.

AccuWeather meteorologists anticipate the intense heat to last beyond Memorial Day.

If the ridge of high pressure responsible for the heat breaks down by the end of May, AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned that the window can open for potential tropical development in the Gulf of Mexico later next week.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see how hot it will be getting in your area. Keep checking back for updates on and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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