The first days of meteorological autumn have picked up right where the summer season left off across the central United States with high heat building back across the region. AccuWeather meteorologists say the first week of September will offer relief for some, at the expense of locally severe thunderstorms, but a continuation of the stifling weather for others.
The Heartland is no stranger to times of intense heat during the summer months, and this year has been no exception. San Antonio and Houston recorded a mere two and three days, respectively, of temperatures below the triple-digit mark during the month of August.
Zoe Star, who works as a Storm Warning Meteorologist at AccuWeather's Severe Weather Center in Wichita, Kansas, said the prolonged heat this summer has "made it hard to breathe" at times.
"Just walking outside midday from the store to your vehicle induces a sweat attack. The air feels thick when it's been so hot for days," Star explained.
Temperatures surging back into the 90s F and even flirting with the triple-digit mark will be commonplace across the northern Plains and Midwest through early week.
Chicago may fall short of 100 with this wave of heat but is projected to endure one of its longest stretches of days of 90-degree Fahrenheit weather yet this year with a total of four spanning through Tuesday. The city had another four-day stretch with temperatures in the 90s from July 25-28.
"Much of the central U.S. has been sweltering under extreme heat for several weeks. However, relief may be on the horizon for some in the northern Plains and Midwest as a cold front enters into the region early this week," AccuWeather Meteorologist Lauren Hyde said.
AccuWeather meteorologists say the tumbling temperatures will not come without a price, however.
The front sparked some severe thunderstorms in parts of the Dakotas and Nebraska late Monday into Tuesday morning, according to Hyde. These thunderstorms triggered hail and damaging winds, including an 88-mph wind report out of Sioux, North Dakota.
Showers and thunderstorms will continue to track eastward with the front, reaching places such as Minneapolis and Chicago around the middle of the week, with a continued threat of locally severe weather.
From Tuesday afternoon to evening, the risk for severe thunderstorms will extend from eastern Minnesota, northeastern Iowa and western Wisconsin southward through southwestern Missouri. Any storms that ramp up across this zone can spread torrential downpours, hail, isolated tornadoes and damaging wind gusts between 60-70 mph.
AccuWeather meteorologists have honed in on a zone across eastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin that will face a moderate risk for severe weather from Tuesday afternoon to evening.
The AccuWeather Local StormMax™ for wind is 80 mph for severe thunderstorms that develop from Tuesday afternoon to evening across the Midwest.
"After the front passes, conditions will be much more comfortable with cooler air bringing temperatures down into the 70s and 80s -- a far cry from temperatures in the 90s to even 100 degrees just a few days prior," Hyde said.
As the cooldown commences across the North Central states, the heat will have eyes for the Northeast with the potential for some of the hottest weather of the summer and perhaps the first heat wave of the year in some locations.
AccuWeather meteorologists say the cold front poised to bring welcome relief farther north will fail to bring cooling weather to the South Central states.
Sweltering conditions will last through at least the first week of September across the region, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg.
The heat will challenge record levels daily across portions of eastern New Mexico and West Texas. Near-record heat could even creep eastward across the southern Plains during the second half of next week.
The intensity of the hot weather this late in the season will continue to pose health concerns for people of all ages, as well as necessitate alterations to daily activities.
AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist and Wichita resident Tim Richards noted that he has "avoided doing lawn work and outside work during the middle of the day...and have shifted those times to the early morning or late-evening hours" to avoid the worst of the heat.
"I grew up in Kansas and experienced similar heat back in the drought summers of 2011 and 2012," Richards noted.
Both Star and Richards said that they have had to set the temperature on their air-conditioning units higher than normal in order to keep them from overworking.
"The real crazy part is that an 80-degree house still feels cool in comparison to the outside during the day," Star said.
AccuWeather meteorologists urge people to seek an air-conditioned environment when possible as the swelter continues in parts of the Central states. Limiting vigorous physical activity during the peak of the heat during the midday and afternoon is recommended, as well as increasing the intake of non-alcoholic fluids to reduce the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
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