Weekend’s Heat Wave to Impact Lower Mississippi Valley and Gulf Coast

Posted: June 23, 2022 2:33 pm

Residents in the southern U.S. need to be ready for an intense heat dome that is forecast to take up residence this weekend, increasing the risk of heat-related illnesses and straining the region’s energy grid.

Next Heat Wave Positioned to the South

There has been no shortage of heat waves throughout the U.S. so far this early in the summer. The heat is set to forge on through the weekend, with the worst of the temperatures being concentrated in the lower Mississippi Valley and into the Gulf Coast over the weekend.

Residents of the northern tier of the country will be spared the extreme heat that plagued them over the last few weeks. An active jet stream positioned in southern Canada and the northern U.S. will push the heat farther to the south, keeping the temperatures seasonable for the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest

For instance, while cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago may see readings in the upper 80s and low 90s on Friday and Saturday, the triple digit readings that the Upper Midwest saw earlier this week will not be an issue with this weather pattern. Chicago Midway Airport broke the century mark on Tuesday, just days after hitting this benchmark for the first time this season on June 14.

Where Will the Heat be Focused?

This weekend’s heat wave will primarily affect the south-central U.S., including some areas that have yet to see the mercury climb above 100 degrees. For other cities in the region, the high temperatures will simply be a continuation of the unseasonably hot summer.

Daily records for the last weekend in June may fall in areas of Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi. Temperatures will be about 5 – 15 degrees above average on Thursday in an area stretching from east Texas through the Mississippi Valley and into the Gulf Coast and southeastern U.S. Real feel temperatures will come close to hitting 115 degrees when combined with the high humidity levels.

These readings will be particularly dangerous along the Gulf Coast, including cities such as New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola. Older individuals or those with pre-existing health conditions will want to take special care to stay cool and out of the heat, especially during the peak afternoon heating hours.

Cities Expected to Add to 100-Degree Days

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New Orleans has yet to see the century mark this summer. However, things are about to change in that department as forecast highs on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will threaten this level. Forecasters warn that the readings may break records that have stood in the Big Easy since 2009.

Oklahoma City is another metro area that has yet to see this milestone this summer. Weather experts contend that the unseasonably wet spring in the region this year has helped to absorb the sun’s energy, keeping the temperatures somewhat suppressed. However, much of Oklahoma is forecast to see temperatures creep into this territory on Friday and Saturday.

While the triple digit readings will be a first for some parts of the U.S. this week, other cities will simply add to what they have already accrued this year. For example, Memphis has already seen three days that topped this benchmark in June. By the time the weekend is over, the city may see a few more added to the total.

Houston is another city along the Gulf Coast that is expected to add to its 100-degree total over the weekend. Farther to the north, Austin has recorded 10 days of readings over the 100-degree mark in June alone with more on the way for the weekend. While the capital city of Texas is no stranger to the heat, the first triple digit reading of the year typically does not happen until July 4, making this recent string more noteworthy.

It will also be warmer east of the Interstate 95 corridor for the weekend ahead. An area of high pressure building up over the western Atlantic Ocean will work to keep any lingering moisture from crossing over the Appalachians. This will be welcome news for those hoping to head to some of the most popular beaches along the Eastern Seaboard.

Looking Ahead

Forecasters are predicting that the heat will begin to back off over the south-central U.S. beginning late in the weekend and into early next week. A jet stream flow moving west to east will lower the temperatures in the upper levels of the atmosphere, bringing the overall readings down lower to the ground. However, another change in the jet stream pattern by the middle of the next week will bring the mercury back up over the southern Plains.

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