Steamy weather with a heat index predicted to reach 102 by Friday is ahead for the Joplin area.
Temperatures are to start climbing Wednesday into the upper 80s, with a high in the upper 80s. Combine that with humidity levels of 60% and that will put the heat index at around 93, said Jeff Raberding, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Springfield.
On Thursday, the index is expected to hit 99 or 100, with the actual high temperature again in the upper 80s.
Thermometers on Friday are expected to top out at 90 with a high dew point of about 70, which will push the heat index up to 102, Raberding said.
A slight cooldown to about 95 in the heat index is expected Saturday with further reductions to around 92 Sunday and Monday.
“It’s kind of a big change from relatively cool weather” the area has experienced recently, Raberding said.
Northern Plains states have already broiled through uncommon high heat and humidity in recent days with Bismarck, North Dakota, recording a heat index of 106, the meteorologist said. “We were kind of fortunate here, where we had clouds” that kept the temperature down, he said.
A wet spring with persistent winds from Mexico are fueling the daily rainstorms and showers that have pushed humidity levels up.
“Looks like we are getting a touch of summer,” Raberding said. “Stay hydrated and take it easy because this is the first heat of this year.”
“Friday looks like the hottest day and then a bit more comfortable as we get into next week,” Raberding said of the extended outlook.
Joplin residents who want to head to the pool to cool off will find Schifferdecker Aquatic Park closed to the public this weekend because of an annual Joplin Stingrays Swim Team meet. Though that pool is usually open until 8 p.m. on Fridays, it will close at 6 p.m. to allow the team to get ready for the meet it hosts.
However, the city will not need as many lifeguards to staff Schifferdecker during the swim competition because features such as the slides and lazy river will not be in use. Those workers will be reassigned to Cunningham Pool. It will be open 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, said Paul Bloomberg, city parks and recreation director.
Admission is $4.50 for ages 2 to 15. Admission is $5.50 for those 16 and older. Children age 2 and younger will be admitted free with adults.
There will be no concessions sold at Cunningham because the pool is not open regularly yet this summer as the result of a lifeguard shortage. Patrons may bring in plastic bottles of water to stay hydrated, but no glass containers will be permitted, the city said. Cunningham is being used some this summer for swim lessons and Aqua Zumba classes.
The lifeguard shortage also has kept Ewert Park pool from opening.
The weather service recommends that people who do not have air conditioning plan ahead to find someplace they can go to stay out of the heat. That could include public libraries, senior centers for those 60 and older, and Northpark Mall.
Other precautions to help avoid heat sickness:
• Avoid strenuous activities.
• Wear light clothing.
• Drink plenty of fluids.
• Watch for cramps that can signify heat illness.
• Check on family members and neighbors.
It also is recommended that people check on family members and neighbors and not leave people or pets in a closed vehicle.