There's good news and there's bad news. Which do you want first? The good? OK, here goes — we've got some heat dome updates for you and, hey-oh, some parts of the country can expect a slight respite from the sweltering temps that have been scorching our nation for the last week. The bad news? For some parts of the country, the nearly unbearable heat and humidity likely won't budge until at least the end of the week. In other's words, it might be a hot weekend.
Let's zip back for a minute and revisit what a heat dome is. An atmospheric phenomenon, a "heat dome" occurs when a ridge or high pressure system traps hot air underneath it. This creates a stifling stretch of unusually hot and humid days. Starting last week, temperatures in nearly every state skyrocketed due to this effect, leading to an unprecedented number of heat advisories. On July 24, at least 26 states had heat warnings in effect, according to CBS News; indeed, over the weekend, temperatures pushed triple digits. And according to the heat index — the measure of how hot it actually feels — certain areas of the country suffered through temps in excess of 115 degrees, reports NBC News. In total, as many (if not more than) 122 million Americans were estimated to be under a heat-dome-related advisory of some sort. In short, it got real hot... and it stayed that way. According to meteorologists, when all is said and done, roughly 200 million people will experience temperatures of 90 degrees or higher, and 130 million will deal with a heat index of 100 degrees or higher.
This certainly seems to hold true so far. Over the weekend, the highest temp in the country was in Death Valley, California, where it peaked at 126 degrees and has remained as of 8 a.m. ET Friday morning, according to the National Weather Service. So, unfortunately, the "cold front on Tuesday" NBC meteorologist Bill Karins predicted would end the heat dome didn't quite pan out (although temperatures do seem to be dropping now). "With no strong pushes of cool air from Canada on the horizon, people from the mid-Atlantic to the Deep South can expect virtually no relief from the high heat and humidity," explained AccuWeather meteorologist Kyle Elliott. Throughout the week, temperatures across the country have been hovering 10 to 15 degrees higher than the average for this time of year in some surprising cities like Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, and other parts of the Northwest.
However, don't pack your bags and move to the South Pole just yet — the heat dome is drawing to a close. It may not have happened earlier in the week as initially presumed, but pretty soon we'll be back to dealing with your garden-variety summer heat. The center of the heat has already started to shift: While it had essentially been squatting over the Pacific Northwest since the second week of June, the national weather forecast shows the most intense bands of heat in that region largely dissipating by the end of the weekend.
To be clear, it's still hot in many parts of the country. It's still going to be hot in many parts of the country long after the heat dome is no longer in play. But at least we won't have to deal with this specific atmospheric hurdle for much longer. Today 110, tomorrow, uh, 93? Whatever, we'll take it.
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