Well, the break in the heat we were expecting to arrive by the middle of this week isn’t going to show up. We’re probably looking at daytime highs in the 90s through Friday, and the weekend dips only into the mid-80s.
We’re not kidding when we say this is almost unprecedented for this time of year. Friday hit 95 degrees, a new record for the date. Saturday hit 97 in Eau Claire, breaking the record by five degrees. Sunday’s high of 91 didn’t miss by much. By the time it’s over, we could quite well have eight consecutive days hit 90 degrees or higher in early June.
Data from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center drives home the point. Since formal records began, only five runs of 90 degrees or hotter have hit the Eau Claire area in June. Only one of those, in June 1968, hit this early. There are no recorded seven-day runs that were that hot in June.
What does that mean for the Chippewa Valley? Stay cool.
Make sure you stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water. When you can, stay in the shade if you need to be out. Staying inside with air conditioning is a better option.
While the temperatures probably won’t threaten daily record highs for the rest of the week, they won’t be far off. And we can’t hope for storms to break this heat for a while. The best shot for that comes Friday, and it’s only 40%.
That brings us to the second concern with this heat. More than half of the Midwest is in drought already. All of Michigan is, with the exception of the western part of the Upper Peninsula. Most of Minnesota is abnormally dry. Wisconsin is just slightly behind.
The most recent map from the U.S. Drought Monitor shows 49.33% of Wisconsin abnormally dry, and that includes the large majority of the Leader-Telegram coverage area. The tips of the southern counties we cover are already in moderate drought, and the southeast corner of the state has severe drought conditions.
We’re not going to go overboard on this. The Midwest has droughts at times, and there isn’t yet much reason to think this is different from previous ones. It’s certainly not like what’s happening in the Western U.S., where there are serious questions about whether parts of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona can sustain traditional water use patterns. All things considered, we’re still fortunate.
But the lack of rainfall could begin to put pressure on crops if it continues. And it certainly won’t help hold down daytime high temperatures. There’s very little that’s more effective at that than a cloudy day with a couple of higher storms.
While there isn’t much we can actually do about the weather, there is a considerable amount we can do to adjust our reactions to it. And, in weather like this, that means being smart about things.
We know there are times people simply have to be outside, even with days like these. The lawn still has to be mowed, dogs still want to be walked, etc. But those things can be shifted a little bit. Walking during the morning or evening hours spares both you and your pooch from the worst of the heat, and keeps their paws off hot pavement. Mowing in the early evening can beat the worst of this, but be sure to give yourself plenty of water breaks.
And, no matter what else you do, never leave a pet or a child unattended in a car in this weather. Every year sees a handful of tragedies nationally when that happens. We’d much prefer not to have that be one of the day’s stories.
The intensity, timing and duration of this heat wave are indeed unusual. But the basic fact of hot weather is something we deal with every summer. Within a few days we’ll have made some adjustments and, apart from the grumbling about the heat, we’ll be ok.
Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re thinking about a water break.