It looks like an early summer heat wave is going to cook the southern part of Missouri and its surroundings under a lid of high pressure for several days.
That’s the assessment of Andy Boxell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield.
This week’s forecast calls for temperatures to hover around 100 degrees or higher Wednesday through Friday and perhaps continuing through next week. The mercury climbed to 101 on Monday in Joplin.
That calls for precautions for people and animals alike.
Chad Angell, the Joplin team leader for AmeriCorps, said volunteers working in Joplin’s tornado recovery zone are monitored in the heat.
“We do a safety briefing in the morning, and we make sure they stay hydrated,” he said. “We tell them to take breaks, take longer breaks” than on cooler days and to seek cool spots for lunch. “We tell them to go to local restaurants and grocery stores where they have air conditioning and cool off. We have site supervisors and runners making sure everyone is all right,” along with vehicles at each site to take the workers to local places to cool off.
It could be the second summer in a row that area residents and visiting volunteers deal with oppressive heat. Joplin’s summer last year set a record high temperature of 110, with six days in August reaching 108 to 110.
Boxell said he can’t predict what the entire season this year will bring, but the current hot weather is coming from a high pressure system that has clamped down over southern Missouri, Northwest Arkansas, and the corners of Southeast Kansas and Northeast Oklahoma.
“We have a very expansive range of high pressure centered over the central part of the country that extends across the expanse of the U.S. from Mexico to Canada,” he said. “Underneath it is a layer of very warm, dry air” that is boxed in, like a skillet with a lid.
In some areas, the ground already is extremely dry because of the heat, Boxell said. “All of that combines to create a period of very warm temperatures,” he said.
There is a chance for a break during the weekend, when a weak frontal ridge may produce some rain or cooler weather, but Boxell predicted that will largely happen east of Springfield, denying relief in the Joplin area.
“For the next two weeks, we’re still looking at a very warm pattern,” he said, with nothing to indicate what the remainder of the summer may bring.