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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Triple-digit temperatures expected for a few more days

By Stan Finger
The Wichita Eagle

Get used to this.

The heat wave that has socked Kansas with triple-digit temperatures over the past few days appears set to stick around through at least the end of the week, forecasters say.

Wichita, which hit 100 for the first time on Sunday, climbed to 105 on Monday and is likely to see nothing but triple digits through the rest of the work week.

The heat will be even more intense in northern Kansas, forecasters say. Hays, for instance, is projected to reach 111 Tuesday and Wednesday.

Heat advisories were issued for more than two dozen counties in northern, eastern and southeastern Kansas, prompting state officials to urge residents to use caution in conducting outdoor activities.

“Plan ahead to stay out of the extreme heat as much as possible,” Angee Morgan, deputy director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, said in a prepared statement.

It’s gotten so hot, “it was even too hot to be at the lake,” said Jody McCain, who works in Colby in northwest Kansas.

The temperature hit 113 in the area on Sunday, she said.

In Hill City, where it reached 114 on Sunday, it’s so hot farmers aren’t even talking about the weather.

They’re grateful the wheat harvest wrapped up before the heat wave arrived.

“That would be horrible” to be harvesting in this heat, said Dawn Bell, who works at the Kansas State University Research and Extension Service office in Hill City.

“I don’t ever remember it this hot — this early in the year, anyway.”

As hot as it has been — and figures to be for the next several days — forecasters say this isn’t a repeat of 2011, when Wichita set a record with 53 days of triple-digit temperatures.

“Last year, it started in late May,” said Ken Cook, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Wichita. “We’re already a month behind that.

“Is that to say we’re not going to have a hot summer? No. But the length of it won’t be the same.”

This June is still shaping up to be hotter than average, though. Wichita averages slightly more than one 100-degree day each June.

If the forecast holds, there will be six June 100s this year. Last year, there were 11 triple-digit days in June.

A high-pressure ridge has settled over the Plains and shows no signs of budging for at least the next 10 days, Cook said. Northwest Kansas has been hotter than the Wichita area because it’s drier, allowing the air to heat up more quickly.

Forecast models suggest temperatures may drop below 100 for highs next week, offering a bit of relief to the region.

The weather pattern cooking the region isn’t anything unusual for this time of year in the central U.S., Cook said.

“That’s summer in the Plains,” he said.

Reach Stan Finger at 316-268-6437 or sfinger@wichitaeagle.com.

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