The killer heat wave that has ravaged the Midwest for days will blast the Northeast this weekend, with no end in sight, according to the Weather Channel’s top global forecaster.
The inferno, blamed for at least 13 people’s deaths so far and thousands upon thousands of livestock deaths as well, also has exacerbated the drought that is threatening to cripple farmers in Texas and neighboring states.
Much of the rest of the country will continue to bake at least until the weekend, with the Northeast next to get extreme heat, the Weather Channel’s Dale Eck tells Newsmax.
Even when this bout of extreme weather has ended, there almost certainly will be more to come, as most of the country sees its hottest weather in the last 10 days of July, Eck said in an exclusive Newsmax interview.
Eck, director of the Weather Channel’s Global Forecast Center, said Texas needs something dramatic, and the best thing right now would be a slow-moving storm. But even that is not on the horizon.
“The best way to bring drought relief is a hurricane or slow-moving tropical storm coming out of the Gulf,” he said. “But that is typically in the early part of the year, and right now, we do not see anything.”
The nine-month drought in Texas, Oklahoma, and parts of New Mexico that has destroyed cotton and grain crops is linked to the current heat wave.
“We have a saying in the business: Drought breeds heat and heat breeds drought,” Eck told Newsmax. “Once you get into drought, there is less moisture in the soil to evaporate and lead to rain and thunderstorms. They feed on each other because dry soil heats up much quicker and so you get higher temperatures.”
At least 40 states are melting with temperatures in the 90s or above this week, with Minneapolis; Rapid City, S.D.; and Springfield Ill. among the hardest hit. This is the country’s worst heat wave in five years, the National Weather Service says, with heat indexes moving well above 100.
It is caused by a dome of high pressure over the center of the country. This has meant that the West Coast and New England have not suffered along with the rest of us.
“I was reading an article . . . that said that, in Seattle, they have so far had 45 minutes of summer,” Eck said.
“But from the Southeast into the Plains, there are cities that have set all-time record highs, which is unusual because typically it is from July 20-26 that most places have their hottest times of the year.
“I have tracked cities that have an average of 10 days over 100 degrees a year and they have already had 30 this year. Parts of west Texas that average 12 days a year have had 40 100 degree-plus days.”
The high temperatures finally will move east this week, putting Washington, D.C., over 100 degrees and New York City into the 90s, but the highest heat will move back into the Plains States after the weekend.
As for the future, there is no real telling whether the nation’s midsection is heading for a drought of Dust Bowl proportions or whether it could all be a memory by summer 2012. Realistically, Eck said, it is difficult to predict further than 30 days into the future although, by looking at trends, it is possible to have some accuracy up to six months ahead.
But beyond that, the weather now “has no bearing on what might happen the following summer.”
But he does know one thing: 2011 will go down as a year of meteorological extremes, from the heavy snowstorms on the East Coast; to the deadly tornadoes that devastated Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala.; to the Missouri River floods and now the long periods of heat and drought.
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