Already this summer season (through July 15th) highs have hit 90 degrees or higher 4 times in Wausau and on 3 days in Rhinelander. In an average year, the mercury tends to hit 90+ degrees 3 to 5 times a summer. Obviously there have been many years where that number has climbed into double digits, most recently in 2005 when there were 13 days in Wausau in the 90s. The last prolonged heat wave in the Wisconsin River Valley was in July 2006 when we had 5 days in a row of 90 degree weather.
With that said, the weather pattern is setting up for a heat wave to take hold across not only the Badger State but much of the Midwest. The cause for this is an upper level high pressure staking it's claim over the southeastern US, in the process pumping the heat and higher humidity in our direction.
The Ring of Fire, as shown above, not only takes into account the area of hot weather on the western flank of the high, but also where thunderstorms are possible. Much of the time, those locations on the fringe of the flow of this high pressure will get regular opportunities for showers and thunderstorms. This can be good in some ways, considering it can be a brief reprieve from the heat, but on the flip side it feels even more muggy and when the sun does pop out again, the temperature once again soars. Unlike a stalled out front, this area where the storms develop and track can change from day to day. In addition, the time of day when the wet weather is possible can vary. There are some instances were the early morning hours are the preferred time for storms to roll by, thanks in part to the relatively cooler conditions during this part of the day. Other times, the storms bubble up due to the building heat in the late afternoon, literally popping up on short notice and falling apart just as quickly not too long after sunset.
We will have a little bit of both the heat and storm chances from Sunday through at least the middle of the week ahead. It appears that Wednesday could be the hottest day, with highs in the mid 90s, but the days before and after won't be far behind, if there is a good deal of sun. Also keep in the mind, the heat index values, aka how hot it feels, will be soaring into the upper 90s to 110. Don't be surprised if you hear us talking about heat advisories or excessive heat warnings through early next week. No less, as long as there are 3 days straight of highs at or above 90, it will go down officially as a heat wave.
Since this is going to be the case, be sure to find ways to stay cool, including heading out to the pool, finding some free air conditioning (like at the mall, library, community center, etc), taking frequent breaks if you are outdoors for an extended period of time, along with curtailing strenuous work outdoors during the hottest parts of the day from 10am to 4pm. There will be more stories talking about this on Newschannel 7, so be sure to tune in for additional tips.
In the meantime, unless your area gets doused by a few storms, odds are the sprinkler or water bucket will be needed to keep the lawn and garden green. Last but not least, be sure to check on your elderly neighbors, along with taking care of your pets so that they are staying hydrated and not overheating outdoors.
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