Sizzling Summer Heat Targets the Central US

For a large part of the summer so far, the South/the Plains have escaped the summer heat they are so famous for. Sure, it’s been humid and we’ve had the odd hot day. But the scorching, multi-day (or multi-week) heat they’re so well known for has been conspicuously absent.


Persistent western ridging resulting in multiple record breaking heatwaves and eastern troughing allowing for a rather wet summer has lead to average temperatures below average for both June and July, though more noticeably so in July. But that’s about to change.

If you’re like me, you may have been holding out hope that we’d make it through the summer without those “dog days” of relentlessly hot, sunny weather. No such luck, it seems.


Beginning today, a ridge will build into the south-center of the country, setting us up for that hot, stagnant weather we’ve managed to dodge so far this season. Modeling suggests that it remains on the weaker side with the ridge somewhat split through the weekend before building into a more intense ridge next week.

The forecast highs via the NWS Blend of Models follows this thinking with heat building through the weekend and then becoming truly miserable as we move into the middle of next week. The Plains states will bear the brunt of the heat with the South somewhat on the periphery, though still above average.

Other than a somewhat weaker ridge initially, we have another factor working to keep the temperatures down a bit: wildfire smoke.


Smoke from the fires in California, Oregon, and parts of western Canada will ride the flow around the building ridge and settle into the Eastern US. The thick haze in the air acts as a sort of filter in regards to the sunlight. More diffuse light provides less heat than direct sunlight – think of heat levels on a somewhat cloudy day vs a day with full sun. Though the layer of smoke won’t knock our temperatures down as much as, say, a completely cloudy day would, it will provide some suppression. Perhaps a few degrees worth. Highs in the low 90s may have been highs in the mid/upper 90s if the smoke wasn’t present. Without any large-scale changes to the pattern, hazy skies will linger, at least into the weekend.


Anyway, there it is. We knew the heat would get us in the end. The fun and the below average temperatures are at an end. Is it fall yet?