High temps persist

Jun. 18—Northern Michigan's heat and humidity wave is living up to expectations, with the forecast calling for temperatures to drop only slightly toward the end of the week.

"By Thursday, we'll be looking at high temperatures in the 80s," Meteorologist Andy Sullivan said. "That isn't to say there couldn't be a couple isolated regions that could reach 90 [degrees], but that heat won't be nearly as widespread as earlier in the week."

Current forecasts say Wednesday will be the hottest day of the week, with temperatures reaching the low 90s in several areas, Sullivan said. "The highest temperatures and humidity will stay just to our south, but it will still be unseasonably hot and humid all across Northern Michigan."

Along with high heat and humidity, many areas in the region can expect periodic showers and typical "run-of-the-mill" thunderstorms over the next several days, especially heading into the weekend, he said.

However, any upcoming showers and storms will likely remain isolated and scattered and probably only last 15 to 20 minutes, according to Sullivan.

That's not to say there couldn't be heavy rain, he cautioned. "As we get deeper into the week, we could get some stronger wind fields and pretty gusty winds."

These potential "heat-induced" storms and showers will likely happen later in the day, and that they won't be as widespread as in the first part of the week.

While a tornado touched down in Southwest Michigan on Sunday night, Sullivan said that current weekly projections don't suggest widespread severe weather across Northern Michigan.

"But, of course, that could change," he said.

Michigan's unseasonably hot and humid weather is the result of a large high-pressure system bringing warm and humid air up from the Gulf of Mexico, Sullivan said.

Since Grand Traverse County is on the northern edge of that system's effective range, it isn't likely to experience temperatures quite as hot as farther downstate.

"It's still something you should be careful about," he said. "The UV index will be very high, especially with the summer solstice coming up in less than a week. I'm guessing [the UV index] will probably be around 8 or 9."

Sullivan recommended that everyone in the area take the general high-heat precautions like staying hydrated, avoiding sun exposure for prolonged periods, and wearing sunscreen while outside.

But early-season high temperatures can even pose problems for those who opt to stay inside, especially as it pertains to brushing the winter dust off long-dormant air conditioning units.

Grace Hannon, manager of marketing at Precision Plumbing and Heating, said that high temperature periods often result in HVAC companies (like PPH) receiving an influx of calls from residents with air conditioning unit problems— many of which can be resolved without making an HVAC phone call.

"[If your air conditioner isn't working], make sure you have the unit's power on," she said. "Sometimes people shut that off in the winter and forget to [turn their breaker back on]. Also check your filters because your air conditioning runs through your furnace. If there's a clogged filter, it can prevent your unit from working properly."

Hannon also recommended that residents check and clean their outdoor units. "A lot of times we find mice nests, or leaves collected from the fall that weren't cleaned out," she said.

Air conditioning equipment that hasn't been properly maintained is one of the biggest reasons that units break down. "Just like your car needs an oil change, your [air conditioning] equipment needs maintenance," she said.

Jesse Reed, retro manager at Precision Plumbing and Heating, said humidity actually causes more discomfort in a building than the temperature itself.

"Air conditioners are natural dehumidifiers," Hannon added. "They cool the air by removing moisture."

During high temperature periods, Reed recommends setting air-conditioning units at a level that feels comfortable, and leaving it there, "because your system has to work much harder to cool it down than if you had just left it [where you originally set it]."

Some crank up the air conditioning while others make the most of the high temps.

Leland McClellan and Alex Marek, students at Traverse City West Senior High, hit the beach or fish whenever they can.

"I haven't missed a day of fishing since school got out," McClellan said as he cast into a well-shadowed stretch of the Boardman River.

"When it's this hot out I like to fish in well-shaded areas with a little more structure," Marek said, noting that high temperatures tend to dramatically affect fish [habits], "especially bass," his targeted species.

During severe weather conditions, Emergency Management Coordinator Gregg Bird said it's important for residents and visitors to stay up-to-date on the latest weather advisories and warnings.

Grand Traverse County's "Code Red" emergency notification system alerts users to inclement weather developments in their immediate area.

"If and when severe weather develops, be it a thunderstorm or a tornado or a flood warning, it gets picked up through our [emergency] system," Bird said. "Anyone enrolled in [Code Red] will automatically receive a warning the minute it's sent out by the National Weather service. If your house is in a warning area, and you are enrolled in the Code Red system, you will immediately be notified."

Residents can enroll in Code Red at gtcountymi.gov\codered, and visitors can download the Code Red app on their cell phone, Bird said.

In Michigan, people can keep up to date on air quality conditions by checking the Air Quality Index through the AirNow website, or by signing up for the EnviroFlash system at m.enviroflash.info, state sources said.