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The Heat is On This Week in Arkansas

Afternoon temperatures in the high 90's from Wednesday through Sunday.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Mother Nature is firing up the thermostat in Arkansas this week as a heat wave heads our way.

Afternoon temperatures will be in the 90's all week, but from Wednesday to Sunday are expected to soar near 100 or above.

The National Weather Service in Little Rock says it will be a hot and dry finish for the month of August.

This summer has not been all that bad as far as heat. Through today, there were only a handful of days with afternoon temperatures of at least 100 degrees. Last year, triple digit readings were much more common.

By this time in 2012, the mercury hit the century mark three dozen (36) times at Fort Smith (Sebastian County), 28 times at Little Rock (Pulaski County) and 21 times at Harrison (Boone County). The mercury did the same thing a combined 6 times at these sites this year.

So, what led to the mild conditions in 2013? A ridge of high pressure, which is often associated with oppressive weather and a lack of rain (and drought) during the summer, has been anchored over the western United States. Across the west, vegetation has dried out given a dwindling ground water supply, and big fires are igniting. Thousands of acres have been torched.

East of the high, a steady supply of storm systems and fronts brought ample rain and kept temperatures down. That is about to change around here, at least temporarily.

The high is going to build across the middle of the country in the coming days, and it will start feeling more uncomfortable outside. Umbrellas will not be needed in most areas.

Green vegetation and normal to above normal soil moisture (in all but the southern counties) will tend to hold down afternoon temperatures at first. However, through time, slow drying may allow readings to creep closer to 100 degrees in much of Arkansas (except the Ozarks) before August is over (mainly from the 28th through the 31st). Factoring in the humidity, heat index values between 100 and 105 degrees are anticipated, and Heat Advisories may be required. 

As September begins, it appears the high may not be as dominant. Some data shows the high moving back to the west, with other data weakening the high. If either scenario verifies, look for at least slightly cooler conditions. Rain chances may return to the forecast as well.

Heat Safety Reminders:

* Drink plenty of fluids
* Stay in an air-conditioned room if possible
* Stay out of the sun
* Check up on relatives and neighbors, especially those without air conditioning
* Never leave any person or pet in a closed, parked vehicle (temperatures inside can reach over 150 degrees quickly, resulting in heat stroke and death)
* Ensure pets have adequate water and, if outdoors, a shady place to rest
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