Holiday Weekend Heat Wave Set for Plains and Midwest

By: Shaun Tanner , 5:42 AM GMT on May 25, 2012

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Over the course of my lifetime, I have watched countless storms and heat waves move across the country. There is one rule that I rely on most when forecasting today. When there is a strong low pressure trough in one part of the country, chances are very high that there is a strong high pressure ridge somewhere else in the country. Nature enjoys balance, and this is the atmosphere's way of obeying this natural edict.

Cool Weather Along West Coast

Of course, I bring this forecasting rule up for a reason. An unseasonably deep low pressure trough will move down the West Coast today and Saturday, bringing cool May temperatures to the Northwest and California. This trough is strong enough that the NWS has issued numerous Special Weather Statements that warn of well below average temperatures. Normally this time of year, areas of the Central Valley of California experience maximum temperatures well into the 80s. Instead, temperatures on Friday will struggle to reach 70 for many areas from Sacramento to Bakersfield. In addition, some moisture associated with this low pressure trof may trigger scattered thunderstorms, especially over higher elevations. While any rain is welcomed after a dry Winter, any lightning associated with these thunderstorms could instigate fires. So residents should monitor local weather conditions, as usual.

Heat Wave for Plains and Midwest

So, here is the where the rule holds true. Since there is a low pressure trough along the West Coast, you would expect a strong high pressure ridge farther to the east. In fact, a strong high pressure system will amplify significant during the period from Friday through Sunday. This high pressure system will allow very warm air from Mexico to flow northward into the Plains. As a result, areas of Texas will warm well into the triple digits with results likely to be set.

The warm air will then move eastward into the Midwest Saturday and Sunday, where residents should prepare for an extremely warm Memorial Day Weekend. We have been watching areas of Ohio all week as forecasts have been well into the 90s. Records will certainly be set for many areas from the Central Plains through the Ohio Valley with numerous areas approaching the triple digit mark.

Warm temperatures are likely to remain into Memorial Day as warm air will continue moving into the Northeast.

And if you don't want to read all of the words in this blog, the image below wraps up the story quite nicely. As you can see, extremely warm temperatures are expected east of the Rockies, with the Northeast experiencing slightly more moderate daytime temperatures.



Tracking the Heat Wave

As always, you can track the heat wave using our exclusive Record Extremes section. This section will update each day, telling you where records have been set. It will be interesting to watch the heat wave move from West to East from Friday through Sunday.

Tips To Remain Comfortable

Remember to remain hydrated throughout the day as your body will lose moisture very quickly as the Mercury rises. While I always encourage being outside and activity, please be aware of your time outside. It is perfectly fine to be outside in the shade, but it is dangerous to remain in the sunshine for an extended period of time when temperatures rise as high as expected for this Holiday weekend. Also, check on the elderly several times a day and make sure they are safe. In addition, your pets are not invulnerable to the heat and should have a constant supply of water. They might even enjoy a spray down with water.

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About shauntanner

Shaun Tanner has been a meteorologist at Weather Underground since 2004.

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