I hope everyone has their swimming pools open and ready because the Eastern US is going straight into the oven over the next few days.
Mostly zonal flow (west to east flow with very little amplification by troughs or ridges) has kept the heat confined to the more southern and central portion of the country over the last few days. That will change, however, as a trough digs in over the northwestern US, forcing the ridge to amplify and shift east.
So, the heat that is confined south today will move north and east, leaving a large portion of this half of the country baking by the weekend.
According to NWS data, this heat wave will bring the first 90 degree temperatures of the season for some major southern cities – like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Knoxville (just to name a few).
Not only will be hot, but it will be potential record-breaking hot. Records may fall from Western Texas well into the Northeast by the time the weekend is over. Some of these are long-standing records, too.
Knoxville, TN will challenge a record that has stood since 1941 (81 years) on Friday
Charlotte, NC will challenge a record that has stood since 1962 (60 years) on Thursday and then again on Friday (1964).
Fayetteville, NC will challenge a record that has stood since 1938 (84 years) on Friday.
The Washington, DC and the Philadelphia, PA area will challenge records that has stood since 1934 (88 years) on Saturday.
I could go on, but you get the point by now: this will be a rather potent early season heat wave.
In addition to sweltering daytime temps, widespread record high minimums are likely.
But why is this important?
Well, when nighttime minimums remain on the higher side after a hot day, it doesn’t give the body much opportunity to reset from the day’s heat. Without that chance to cool down, heat exhaustion is much more likely. This is mainly a concern when nighttime minimums are in the upper 70s/80s range. But for some, especially those further north who are used to cooler nights, the warmer overnight temps will be something that feels foreign coming off of a cooler spring.
No matter where you are in the Eastern US for the rest of this week, be sure to have ways to remain cool not only during the day but at night as well. Drink plenty of water and try to stay out of the sun during peak heating hours.
Cooler, closer to average temps return after the weekend.