Pump Up the Heat

A lot of folks probably thought that after the cool start to the first half of June we would never see any summer type weather. Au contraire. Almost on cue, the heat and humid has broken into the western Great Lakes, firing up a few rounds of thunderstorms this past weekend and likely more for the days ahead. In the meantime, our focus is on the soaring temperatures and the sticky feel to the air. Highs on Tuesday look to crack the 90 degree mark for the first time in Wausau since way back in August 2007. That's right, it has been over 22 months since the mercury has soared past 90.  Why the long lapse of true summer heat?  It can be partly explained by the abundant amount of rainfall that occurred late last spring and early summer. As you know, the sun works to heat the air and the ground. When there has been a lot of wet weather, more of the sun's energy goes into evapotransportation (heating and drying out the soil) before it can work on heating the air. The good thing about this is that it may work to keep temperatures below 90 locally, however at the same time the air ends up being more humid. This will be the case for the folks out in Taylor and NW Marathon Counties where anywhere from 2 to 4" of rain fell on Monday morning for the next couple of days.

No less, this is an opportune time to touch upon another summer time topic, the heat index. Also known to some folks as the "feels like" temperature, this reading takes into account the air temperature and the relative humidity value. Before I go too much farther, I would like to say that the relative humidity really doesn't give you a complete understanding of this calculation. Here's why. Let's assume the temp is 85 degrees, while the dew point value (which is used to calculate the humidity) is 60. This would produce a relative humidity of 42%. That doesn't seem too high, right? Nevertheless, the heat index value would be the same as the air temperature at 85. Example 2, let's now say the air temp is 95 with a dew point of 72. Again this would give a relative humidity of 47%...not a whole lot higher. But, this comes out to a heat index value of 104.

So looks can be deceiving. No less, a better rule of thumb is when the dew point value is 55 or lower during the summer months, it won't really feel that humid. Then the dew point is around 60, the air does start to get a little muggy. However, when the dew point is anywhere from 65 and above, it becomes downright oppressive, especially when into the mid or upper 70s. And yes, dew points that high has happen here in North Central Wisconsin in the past. When we have days like that, the moment you step into the air conditioning, you will certainly feel the difference. If you have never experienced this, head down to Florida during the late spring and summer months. After a couple hours out in the heat, you'll be glad for that A/C.

Meantime, last weekend was a stormy one back across southeastern Minnesota as numerous tornado touchdowns were reported from 7:30 to 10pm Sunday night from southeast of Mankato to just west of Austin. Not only this, but this supercell was only moving at about 10 to 15 mph, putting down drenching downpours, which added up to over 4" of rain. Freeborn County, located in this part of Minnesota, had some form of a tornado warning in effect for nearly 3 hours. Back here in the Badger State, so far there have been about 4 or 5 tornado touchdowns. Still relatively low for this point in the season, but considering we've got July and August to go and a seasonal average statewide of 21, Mother Nature could certainly make up some ground.

There is the possibility of strong to severe storms late Tuesday into Tuesday night in North Central Wisconsin as a cold front shifts across the area. Strong damaging winds, heavy downpours of rain and hail are the main threats with these storms. Beyond that, there are continued chances of storms for Wednesday and again late Friday into Friday night. We'll have the heat and humid conditions, it is just a matter if the trigger is there for these storms to become severe. No less, be sure to check back in here on the web channel for updated views of Titan radar and of course our 24/7 weather channel.

Try to stay cool!

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