Desert Heat Wave Swarms into Town


Thursday Update
It's official late this Thursday night. The high hit 100 in Charleston at Yeager and 101 at Huntington airport. That's the first time we joined the century club in 5 years.
With the fiery setting sun temperatures have mercifully settled back to 90 degrees for concert goers at the Sternwheel Regatta in Pt Pleasant and at Roadside Park in St. Albans where Riverfest is underway.
Ahead we have a meteorological feedback pattern where drought breeds heat and heat breeds more drought. Afternoon highs will be near 100 again on Friday and Saturday. While the chance of cooling thundershowers has returned to the PM forecast, let me stress major heat wave conditions look to last for days.
This pattern reminds one of the dreaded Dust Bowl Days of the 1930s when highs routinely cracked the 100 degree mark. Fortunately, we are not as dry as those barren years..
Blast Furnace Heat on Thursday
This Wednesday evening we are enjoying a delightful time outdoors as temperatures are settling back into the cozy 70s (highs hit the tolerable upper 80s). As Ol Sol packs it in for the day at Roadside Park in St. Albans and Battle Monument Park in Point Pleasant, Riverfest and Sternwheeler Fest officials are enjoying a fiery sunset as their setups are complete heading into these pre-holiday weekend events.
Just before 9 pm, that red ball sunset is a telltale sign that Thursday and Friday’s weather will take a turn toward the sweltering side.”Red sky at night, sailor delight”, the biblical adage goes.
For reference I just checked the observation at the Las Vegas airport, code LAS. Skies are deep cobalt blue (like ours) with the temperature 101, humidity 10% and wind blowing at 22 gusting to 30 miles per hour. I mention this since that is a snapshot of our weather conditions for Thursday.
You see given how parched the ground is now (farmers like Danny Blevins in Lawrence County Ky are already proclaiming full fledged drought conditions), and how bone dry the air is (our afternoon humidity levels were in the 20% range), I have no qualms in stating we are in for a desert heat on Thursday.
Humor me for a second as I predict the first 100 degree day since August 2007. That lofty measure of heat occurs only when we get into a vicious, self sustaining cycle of dryness and heat, each feeding off the other.
 In fact the day before we last hit 100 locally, I noted the temperature in Louisville above 100 degrees with winds at 5,000 feet blowing from the Derby City right toward us at a brisk 30 miles per hour. The next day we hit 103 in Huntington and 104 in Charleston.
This Wednesday night that same fast air current a mile up is blowing along I-70 from St. Louis to Kansas City. That wind is about to make the turn toward Cincy-Louisville overnight. So the process of advection (moving air from 1 place to another through wind currents) will transport the 100 degree heat from the Show Me State into the Bluegrass.
From there our supercomputers are moving that air bodily right up the Ohio River into Portsmouth-Greenup and Huntington-Ashland-Ironton area by late Thursday afternoon. Based on this computer wind projection, I am figuring our late day air will be identical to that of Kansas City and St. Louis. That gives me the notion to predict 100 degrees in the Ohio Valley by late afternoon.
Folks living farther east into the Kanawha Valley, the hottest air won’t be arrving until early evening so you will likely be mercifully spared the distinction of making the century club.
The heat wave will steamroll through the weekend and most of next week, so areas that fail to benefit from Friday and Saturday’s scattered afternoon thundershowers will have another chance at hitting 100. This as the summer theme of scorching heat and drought takes control.
More to come, stay cool!
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