“Tomorrow is the hottest day of the year, without a doubt,” National Weather Service meteorologist Gary Chatelain said Friday afternoon as the Shreveport NWS office updated the forecast for the county of Union to implement an excessive heat warning.
Today, temperatures are expected to exceed 100 degrees and, given the humidity, the heat index could reach 110 degrees, Chatelain said.
“The heat index is how your body perceives heat,” he explained. “The purpose of sweating is to cool you down, but when it’s so humid that the sweat doesn’t evaporate, you don’t get any cooling effect. Your sweat isn’t doing its job in that environment; that’s it. simply too heavy.”
“More than likely, (Saturday) is a wet shirt day. You’re not going to evaporate the sweat, you’re going to collect it in your clothes and it won’t do anyone any good,” he added.
The high heat and humidity can be dangerous for those who don’t have access to air conditioning or for animals that usually stay outdoors. The Salvation Army is open during the day and corps officer Major David Robinson said in June that those in need of freshening up were asked to stop and rest in the air conditioning.
Chatelain said wearing light, loose clothing can only do so much to keep people cool in the kind of heat Union County residents will experience today.
“Today’s fabrics do a great job of not soaking in moisture, but even then, if it’s too wet, it just can’t be done no matter what outfit you’re wearing. It better not work or play in that kind of heat,” he said. “Do it sooner or later, but avoid the hottest part of the day.”
Today’s heat is caused by an incoming cold front that is expected to hit Union County around midnight, Chatelain said.
“Before a cold front, it can be a few degrees warmer, as the air descends and it compresses,” he explained. “We’re about to change the pressure, about to change the humidity in the air.”
Friday afternoon there was a 30% chance of showers or thunderstorms tonight, and Sunday’s weather is expected to be relatively mild.
“Sunday is shaping up to be amazing,” Chatelain said. “It’s going to be 92 degrees, no heat advisory… We’ll have nice northeast winds all day on Sunday and that will blow the humidity away.”
The NWS forecast daytime temperatures will climb back into the mid-90s by Monday, but Chatelain said ‘above-average chances of rain’ could help him feel a bit cooler later in the week. next. Overall, though, residents of southern Arkansas won’t get much relief from the high heat and humidity until summer is over.
“There’s an upper ridge above it; it’s always hot under an upper ridge. It’s just a big band of warm air,” Chatelain said. “It’s hot here, it’s hot all over the United States. It just heats up the atmosphere and it’s hard to make it rain when it’s so hot because the air is sinking. The air that is sinking causes heat, the rising air produces clouds and rain.”
Heat is one of the deadliest weather conditions encountered in this region, and according to the United States Centers for Disease Control, more than 600 Americans die each year from heat-related illness. According to preliminary data from the Arkansas Department of Health, 13 Arkansans died from heat-related illnesses last year.
For those who can’t avoid going out today, ADH recommends:
– Wear loose and light clothes
– Drink water often, not just when you are thirsty
– Avoid hard and unnecessary work outside
– Avoid sun exposure by wearing a hat and sunglasses outside
– Wear sunscreen