What Brought On The Extreme Heat?

Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 5:55 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Summer in the Wiregrass would not be complete without a heat wave that lasts about four or five days.

We are pretty used to temperatures reaching the lower to middle 90s most of the summer, but those stretches of temperatures that push upper 90s don’t always happen, or they occur in July or August. When this does happen, rain chances become much lower as available moisture and dewpoints drop off for a time.

A ridge of high pressure shifting closer translates to sinking air and drier air. Dewpoints lower, and as a result, humidity isn’t much of a problem. Here’s what two of the heavily used weather models were saying on Thursday morning. The weather community anticipated above average temperatures, yet a drying out of the atmosphere. This is the American forecast model showing the center of the ridge (region of drier air and clear skies) moving into western Alabama, and that was enough to bring us to the upper 90s by the afternoon.

500 mb GFS solution
500 mb GFS solution(WTVY)

And this next one (the European weather model) shows the same scenario, a true summer heat wave continuing through the week.

500 mb EURO model
500 mb EURO model(WTVY)

It’s easy to see the expansive ridge of high pressure taking over the southeastern U.S. on Thursday afternoon.

Moisture map
Moisture map(WTVY)

In the image above, the values indicate how much moisture is in the atmosphere. A value close to one inch in the summer means very dry air is in place and no rain is expected. The better moisture Thursday afternoon is found over Mississippi and Louisiana. No worries, dew points will go up again and rain will return. That’s just how summer goes here in the Wiregrass.

Here is the product of this atmospheric setup, a map of widespread middle to upper 90s across the southeast.

Regional Temps, Southeast
Regional Temps, Southeast(WTVY)

This pattern isn’t expected to break until late this weekend or early next week. When an area is near the center or east of the bullseye of a strong ridge, there will likely not be any cloud cover or rainfall. Hence, the zero percent rain chance the past two days. A few showers will be possible this weekend but better rainfall coverage will have to wait until Monday through Thursday.

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