—by Todd Thorson
What bad timing, Mother Nature! As students headed back to school and football players across the state began preparation for the upcoming 2013 season, the weather took a turn for the worse. Temperatures climbed into the mid to upper 90s through the entire week, with no immediate relief in sight. Heat indexes were expected to hit the triple digits as well.
When most people wanted this hot weather - on the lake or when the corn crop needed warmth during the tassling stage - we didn’t get it. The Iowa State Fair even came and went with temperatures staying on the pleasant side of the thermometer - a rarity among the fair annals for sure.
Everything has been "late" or unusual this year. Following a moderate and dry winter and then one of the wettest springs on record, with snow even falling the first week of May, the state went right back to dismal and dry. A comfortable and enjoyable three-week run in August was near perfect, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. But still now rain, however. And now, ole Mother Nature decided to give us, what is hopefully, one last blast of hot weather before "you know what" comes calling.
Fortunately for the Roland-Story Norsemen football team and their fans, the heat wave didn’t arrive until last Saturday, as their scrimmage Friday night in Iowa Falls was staged on a beautiful evening (see page 4 for details). By Sunday and Monday of this week, the high temperatures had settled in, with no relief expected. The forecast calls for temps to hover around 100 degrees through the Labor Day weekend. The nearest respite from the heat isn’t expected until well into next week. So we just better get used to it for awhile.
The culprit of this heat stranglehold is a large high pressure ridge that has settled over the state, emitting an abundance of heat, making it difficult for the ridge to advance east. Not only will temperatures remain high, but the humidity will be inching upwards as well, primarily during the afternoon hours. This will cause heat indexes to advance into the triple digits. The large ridge will also prevent thunderstorms from forming, so any relief in the form of rain is doubtful.
Last week, the state of Iowa was continuing to be mired in extremely dry conditions. Over 80 percent of the state was experiencing abnormally dry or near drought conditions. Temperatures nearly hit 100 on Monday of this week, and the thermometer was expected to even surpass the century mark as this edition of the Herald went to press. The National Weather Service had instituted an excessive heat warning beginning on Sunday, which was in effect until 10 p.m. Tuesday (last night). The warning could also be extended as well.
To avoid the heat, residents are urged to stay indoors, wear loose fitting and light-colored clothes, drink plenty of water, reschedule outdoor activities for the early morning or late evening hours and do not leave children and pets unattended in cars or enclosed places. Above all, avoid long periods of time in the sun.
If the forecast holds true, Iowa could see one of the hottest strings of heat this late in the summer on record. According to records, the last time it was this hot, this late in the season, was 1955, when up to four days in a row saw temps at 95 degrees or more. Not since early September of 1927 did Iowa see a nine-day run of blistering heat like this, and nine days this time around may not be out of the question. This week’s heat wave will undoubtedly go down as one of the top 10 to 12 hottest periods in Iowa history.
This year is indeed becoming a strange and unpredictable series of weather patterns, from a mild winter, to a late and wet spring, on through drought conditions this summer. Who knows what’s in store for the fall and winter. Just an FYI: The just-released Old Farmer’s Almanac calls for a much colder winter this year. Just what we wanted to hear, right?