The heat wave that's been dogging the region for the past month is about to unleash its strongest punch.
In Omaha, at least four straight days of temperatures at or above 100 degrees are in the forecast, and it could extend beyond that.
As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a warning of excessive heat for the heart of the country, including Omaha, Lincoln, Des Moines and Kansas City.
Through Tuesday, dangerously hot and humid weather is expected. Those outdoors should seek shade and drink water. Those indoors but without air conditioning should seek a cool environment to give their bodies a break.
AccuWeather Inc. meteorologist Erik Pindrock expects the extreme heat to continue at least into early August. The only respite from highs in the upper 90s to 100s in the Midlands will come from storms that may pop up, he said — but few are expected.
The August and early autumn long-term forecasts released by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center this week call for continued above-normal temperatures into late October for much of the U.S., including Nebraska and Iowa.
Noreen Schwein, a meteorologist with the Central Region of the National Weather Service, said the sustained heat is caused by a dome of hot air that has anchored itself over the Central Plains, refusing to budge.
That dome, a high-pressure system, brought extreme heat over the July Fourth holiday, when Omaha saw three days with highs ranging from 100 to 104. Temperatures waned a bit when a weak storm system came through, but the dome of hot air is recovering its strength, she said.
Schwein said it's possible another weak system will move through midweek, providing a break from triple-digit highs. But once that system moves through, the mercury will quickly rebound. Highs in the upper 90s are forecast again by the end of next week.
Becky Kern, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Valley, said nights will be warm, too, so people won't get much of a break. Overnight lows are expected to be in the mid- to upper 70s, she said.
Adding to problems is the lack of rain. Pindrock noted that Omaha has had barely a trace in July.
The normal mid-July high in Omaha is 87 degrees and the normal low is 67 degrees. Average rainfall is about an inch a week.
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