Heat blankets state, breaking records

Winds coming up from the desert and down from the Rocky Mountains combined to send the mercury soaring in south-central Kansas on Monday.

Wichita set a record high for Aug. 2, reaching 108, and several neighboring cities reached 106 or higher.

Today could easily top 100 again, forecasters say.

"It's going to be an uncomfortable couple of days," said Jim Caruso, a meteorologist with the Wichita branch of the National Weather Service.

The old record for the second day of August in Wichita was 106, set in 1970. But Monday blew past that mark, thanks to southwesterly winds bringing dry air from Arizona, and westerly winds coming down the slope of the Front Range of the Rockies.

"We are getting a slight downslope component," Caruso said. "It is helping to warm the temperatures up fast."

Winds descending from the mountains warm up as they get closer to the surface as a result of compression, said Mike Smith, president of WeatherData, the Wichita-based subsidiary of AccuWeather.

Mixing with dry air from the desert creates a setting for searing highs, forecasters said.

Great Bend and Hutchinson both reached 108 by midafternoon. Wellington, Winfield and Salina all hit 106.

Wichita and south-central Kansas "just looks hot" for today, Caruso said.

The record for today, 108 in 1964, could fall as well, forecasters said. An excessive-heat warning remains in effect until 9 p.m.

In such conditions, Caruso said, any extended outdoor activity should be handled with care.

"If they have to be outdoors, they need to take frequent breaks and get plenty of fluids in them," he said.

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