Few Americans Will Escape an Awful Heat Wave This Week

NOAA’s GFS model, which predicts that a high pressure ridge of hot air will park itself over the United States later this week. Image: NOAA

Do you like sweating profusely and racking up enormous AC bills? Then you should head anywhere east of the Rockies stat, because this week, a high pressure dome is coming to town, and it may bring some of the hottest summertime highs the US has ever seen.

Since last week, weather forecast models have been in agreement that a high pressure ridge of air will march across most of the contiguous US this week. It’s expected to spawn in the Plains tomorrow, strengthen on Wednesday, reach the Northeast by Friday, and persist through the weekend.


The heat wave is predicted to bring temperatures of above 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) to many locations and highs above 100 (38 degrees Celsius) to especially lucky states, including Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. By the latter part of the week, parts of Minnesota and the Great Lakes places may experience highs close to thirty degrees Fahrenheit above normal. Potentially hard-hit cities include Minneapolis, Des Moines, Chicago, and Milwaukee.

Image: NOAA

It’s already been a sizzling summer—we recently learned that June was the hottest on record for the lower 48, and the mercury is showing no signs of mercy this month. Globally, we’re well on our way to another hottest year in recorded history. While specific meteorological events are not caused by climate trends, extreme heat waves are predicted to become more common in a warming world.

With any heat wave, there’s always the concern of heat exhaustion, and this week will be no exception. As meteorologist Dan Satterfield points out over at AGU, the dew point, or temperature below which water vapor can condense, has been extremely high along the east coast recently, owing to the enormous amount of heat being stored in the ocean (for which our dearly departed record-breaking El Niño is partially to thank). Since the human body’s natural cooling mechanism relies on the evaporation of sweat, a high dew point combined with high temperatures can increase the risk of heat stroke.

Sea surface temperature anomalies for the Northwest Atlantic. Image: NOAA

In other words: if you’ve got to catch them Pokémon this weekend, do so early or late in the day, and don’t forget to drink a ton of water.


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Maddie Stone

Maddie Stone is a freelancer based in Philadelphia.