Follow heat wave across the US in NOAA animation


Minnesota is currently in the midst of (another) heat wave, with heat indexes pushing above 100 for several days in a row. This is, to say the least, not normal for us. On MPR this afternoon, meteorologist Paul Huttner said this is actually the worst heat wave Minnesota has experienced since people started keeping records*. Or, to quote my friend Jim, "I finally understand what that Nelly song was all about."

Wondering what's going to happen in the Midwest over the next couple of days? The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has put together an animation showing how the current heat wave spread, and where it's going next. Turns out, we can all blame Texas for this.**

*I have now installed my window unit air conditioners. You win, weather. I give up.

**That's a joke.


  1. The heat is bad; the humidity is worse and the air is breathless outside, not a leaf is moving.

  2. There’s so much humidity in the air, that along with the heat, my local ice rink had a fog on it yesterday. Not just a faint haze either.. you couldn’t see from one end to the other.

    Hockey players coalescing out of the mist at full tilt is a little unnerving.

    1. In Chicago, they’re closing the beaches on Lake Michigan because of “advection fog” that is limiting visibility for lifeguards. “Find a pool,” they said.

  3. Yeah, I have not felt humidity like this since I lived in Lousianna.

    Sunday afternoon was really remarkable, I honeslty had trouble breathing outside.

  4. Hey, you can do what I do every day: check to see if it’s hotter here or in Riyadh.

  5. We are getting some tepid breezes here in Indiana. So, it’s like walking out into barely moving hot water, instead of still hot water.

  6. Understanding the joke, but also further joking that Kansas is to blame for being in the center of the whirring blades of the convection oven (also not quite an exact analogy, but meh, close enough perhaps).

  7. Definitely some diapers to be passed out to you all. It’s 115-120 degrees with ~30-40% humidity out in my hometown near Palm Springs.

  8. I just wish they had reversed the order of the colors they used. I associate white with higher temperatures than dull red — just watch a filament go from dark (really, infrared) to dull red to bright red to orange, yellow, and white.
    I keep thinking the cool parts on this animation are hot, and the hot parts cool!

  9. I have now installed my window unit air conditioner

    Which, by the laws of thermodynamics, kicks out a lot more heat than it sucks out of your dwelling. Multiply by the millions of people in any city with air-conditioning and you have one of the major causes of the heat wave. Especially ludicrous is the typical 30-story apartment building with the window units all directly over each other. The one on the bottom kicks out the heat of the airless cell behind it (and then some) into the unit above it. Thirty stories later the top unit is glowing cherry red and lowering the apartment temperature by maybe 1/2 a degree. Of course, if you had transoms in these units so that air could actually circulate through the building you wouldn’t need air-conditioning at all. Instead, we have little glass bubbles with no air circulation at all facing directly into the sun: think burning ants with a magnifying glass.

    If you just turned off all the air-conditioning you could probably lower urban temperatures by 5 degrees or more. I directly experienced this in a hotel in Florida once. It was donut shaped with the pool in the middle and all of the window air-conditioners exchanging and amplifying heat out over pool. It was blisteringly hot even with your unit cranked up to the max but if you went out into the parking lot it was quite cool.

    PS – Any of you Earthlings ever wonder about your increasing need for special environmental equipment to survive conditions on your own planet? I mean, I’m from another planet so I’m allowed but what’s your excuse?

    1. I turned the air-conditioner on this morning at 9 a.m. It was already 86 degrees outside. I doubt if the heat was raised much by air-conditioning units, since I couldn’t hear any when I went out to water. Most of us in this development turn them off at night, open our windows and use fans in the bedrooms. No point in cooling the whole house while we’re sleeping.

      I will allow that the humidity is increased by all the landscape sprinkling systems…in addition to our daily thunder storm.

    2. Lookin’ to make work for the coroners, are you?

      Elderly people die without A/C.

      Oh, a reminder – please check on your elderly neighbours from time to time during this heat wave – and please also check on your other neighbours, who are unable to entirely look after themselves – to ensure that they have sufficient means to stay cool.

      Heat like this can kill, you know.

    3. Multiply [air conditioners] by the millions of people in any city with air-conditioning and you have one of the major causes of the heat wave… If you just turned off all the air-conditioning you could probably lower urban temperatures by 5 degrees or more.

      I would need to see citations on those numbers. From what I’ve read, the actual heat generated by human activities has a piddling effect on the temperature outside. Sure, it’s hot if you’re within 10 feet of the back of an AC unit, but it’s not going to affect the state-wide temperature. The air above a state is huge in comparison.

      Of course, the ACs use energy, which almost certainly causes an increase in the amount of CO2 released, so in the longer term all those AC units will indeed raise the global temperatures.

  10. The Nova Scotia tourist board should scrap all that tired old stuff about the wild ocean vistas and the quaint fishing villages and the ancient Gaelic culture and just be like ‘Yo, it’s always cool up here. We’re in the middle of an icebox.’

  11. Feel free to send your heat to north central BC as it’s been the coldest and wettest summer in recent memory.Gonna start freezing again in a month and I’d appreciate a couple weeks of warm, dry weather.

  12. @Nadreck: It’s what climatologists call a positive feedback. Positive in the sense that it amplifies the climate disruption, but not positive in the sense of “good for the long term health of the human race”.
    In the future, alien anthropologists will marvel that despite all their advances in science, the only thing the human race did when the planet started warming was to crank up their air conditioners.

    “… the alien anthropologists
    Admitted they were still perplexed
    But on eliminating every other reason
    For our sad demise
    They logged the only explanation left
    This species has amused itself to death.”

  13. I lived in Minnesota for 3 years, Coldest Winters of my life and hottest Summers. And right now they have no beer. Those Scandahovians are tough.

  14. I’ve lived here all my life and I really can’t remember a hotter summer than this. It has made everyone around me a little angry and slow. Of course, no A/C in the house, and no way to install it.

    Well, I always did like the public library.

      1. This is one of those hatefully crunchy Midwestern university towns. You’ll pry our libraries from our cold, entitled corpses.

        And to tl;dr this, the global warming thing just makes me worry that this is what the world will be like. It’s all well and good for us; food will get a little more expensive and we’ll blog about how hot it is. But if you’re a subsistence farmer living on the very margins of survival in a good year anyway? Well, welcome to our new special kind of man-made hell. And what are we doing about it? Throwing pies at media moguls, bemoaning the sexual travails of some French fop, playing a big Kabuki theater in D.C., and screaming our heads off about a rather ordinary murder trial.

        It cooled off this evening though. Now it’s just an ordinary hot, like some kind of slow boil.

  15. Meanwhile, in Portland, Oregon:

    Wind: SW at 5 mph
    Humidity: 61%

    It rained a bit yesterday.

    Plenty of beer.

      1. I remember my parents in Ohio all asking about the crime/earthquakes/fires/mudslides/riots/ and I would say that most of that stuff is extreme and I haven’t seen half of them since I’ve been here 7 years out here on the West Coast and most can be avoided.

        But you know what does get you: Massive heat waves, Harsh (and long) winters.

        I would take my chances with the extremes and the the added expense than get pounded year after year with the harsh weather that affects the other 80% of the country most the time.

  16. Just like a light bulb sucking in the darkness, Seattle emits a powerful river of cold that reaches all the way to New Mexico.

  17. Although it’s 112° at the moment, we’ve had a cool year so far. It didn’t go over the high 90s three days last week. That’s cold weather for Palm Springs in July. But it’s been very dry, even by desert standards.

  18. The hard part for us around here is the temperature not going down at night. We’re used to being able to open windows then, while keeping everything shut and dark during the day. When the temperature doesn’t drop after dark, there’s no relief.

    1. We just had five years of summers with monsoonal humidity that lasted four or five months. The daytime highs were a bit lower, but we’d have months where it never got below the mid-80s at night and was close to 100° and humid at midnight.

      It’s finally dry again this year. Although it was still 87° at 0400 this morning. At least the AC doesn’t sound like it’s going to explode from processing all that moisture.

      Also, when we get humidity, it passes the Salton Sea on the way here and arrives smelling like sulfur, dead fish and raw sewage. We had a few minutes of hot, sulfurous rain a couple of weeks ago. Nasty.

      1. Gads, Antinous, between the weather, the dog poo next door, and the honey badger, it sounds like you’re living in some hitherto unknown circle of hell.

        1. Well, our average daily high in December and January is 70°. So we, at least, have one nice season, unlike much of the US which has miserable heat alternating with miserable cold.

          1. I actually enjoy the fact that where I live we have very distinct seasons. Winters in Krakow are usually reasonably cold, often -5 to -10C but down to -30C on a few memorable occasions …and there’s often a fair bit of snow. Spring is proper – a mix of rain and sun and moderate warmth (20C). Summers are warmer, up to usually around 25-30, hitting 35 on a hot day and very rarely a bit warmer. Autumn sees things cool off pretty quickly, a reverse spring.

            At the end of winter or very beginning of spring the landscape looks like it was bombed during the winter. It is desolate and dead looking. Then, after about two weeks, all of a sudden it looks like it was bombed again – but this time with some sort of green bomb.

        2. Seriously. I second that. What possesses you (or anyone,really) to live there, Antinous?

          I know it’s not the architects. ;-P

      2. Oddly, I’ve always kind of liked the smell of sulfur. You can keep the dead fish and raw sewage, though.

  19. As Anon said above, it’s great that we in the Pacific Northwest aren’t roasting alive, but it’s been far too wet and cold this year. (Yes, even by Seattle standards.) The weather is changing everywhere..

  20. We’ve been very lucky here in Little Rock with the temperatures. It was actually hotter last week than this week.

    We’ve had 5 hours of rain in 8 weeks, so the outside humidity is in the 30-40% range and there’s almost always a light breeze.

    However, the A/C runs on and off 24/7. It’s usually 80-82 by midnight and only falls to 76 or 78 by dawn.

  21. Looking at that map, it makes me want to paraphrase what Maxwell Smart would say if he were living here in San Diego… “Missed us by THAT much.” We’ve actually had below normal temperatures here.

  22. Time to take a look at the chart of years ranked by how warm they are:
    (this version is a little old, as it doesn’t have 2009 and 2010, but 2010 is tied for third place, and 2009 was the 7th warmest).

    Some thought-provoking questions for this chart:
    Which of the 50 warmest years on record were you alive for? (I’m only 46, but have lived through 38 of top 50 warmest years)
    How far down the rankings do you have to go to get to a year that you weren’t alive for?
    (For most BB readers, that’s probably 1944, which ranks 25 on this chart, but it moves down to 27th once you include 2009 and 2010). So most of us have lived through at least the top 26 warmest years on record.

  23. Looks like the heat wave reached north of Montana yesterday, which I can confirm by the scorchin’ 84 F temperature in Calgary. (Yes it actually made headlines). It still cooled down at night like it always does, to 60F.

    What I’m trying to say is, the US heat wave made for a really nice weekend up here.

  24. On Thursday, the forecast for my area is 38 Celcius with a humidex of 48. The next day I will leave for the Canadian Rockies to do some climbing and I had to pack touque, mitts and gators yesterday …while wearing a bikini top to stay cool enough to finish the job. I’m wondering if and how my body would react to such extremes.

    1. As to your first point: there are lots of beautiful places in the world. That’s not enough of a selling point, on its own.

      As to your second point: ah, yes…that’s an unfortunate reality for many now. Sorry you’re in that bind. But, hey, at least it’s beautiful there!

  25. Don’t worry, USA!

    Your legislators say there is no global warming and no need to follow the example of… well, of the rest of the whole world about setting limits to CO2 and air pollutants emissions – hence there is obviously no heatwave.

    Keep calm and roast away.

    1. Anon #47: Those would be the same wise legislators who have decreed marijuana to be an extremely dangerous drug, are they not?

      What do they get right? How’s the economy doing? How goes the wars?

      Only one solution to bad policies and politics – get more involved, in society and in social life, in any and all kinds and natures of social activity.

      Or, as RW Emerson advised – “Love more!”

    1. A prediction I agree with – but pretty well everything else you trollishly post on BB is imho “out to lunch”- all spin, all negative.

      Then again, on this one you are merely parroting what the scientists have been saying for a quarter-century, apparently in order to make people feel bad.

  26. Now for some practical advice from the Canadian Red Cross on dealing with this heat:

    “The Canadian Red Cross is warning that people most at risk of suffering heat exhaustion and other adverse health effects from extreme heat are the elderly and young children, as well as those who:

    – Work, exercise, or live outdoors.
    – Have health problems, especially people taking certain medications.
    – Have had heat-related illness in the past.
    – Have heart disease or other conditions that cause poor circulation.
    – Take medications to eliminate water from the body (diuretics).

    The Red Cross also gives these tips for beating the heat:

    – Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day, between about 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try going out in the early morning or later evening when the sun is not as strong.
    – Slow down activities that make you hot. Work and exercise in brief periods.
    – Take frequent breaks.
    – Dress in light, loose clothing, and wear a hat.
    – Drink plenty of cool fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.”


  27. Eleven years in hellish heat of S. Iran taught us to dress in shirt and jeans, soak yourself in water resulting in a nice cooling off during the evaporation.

    Also: place container of water in front of fan so air is cooled off as it blows across the water.

    Yet another tip: hang bamboo blinds outside of windows then spray them with water so they can cool off air coming through them.

    1. Eleven years in hellish heat of S. Iran taught us to dress in shirt and jeans, soak yourself in water resulting in a nice cooling off during the evaporation. Also: place container of water in front of fan so air is cooled off as it blows across the water. Yet another tip: hang bamboo blinds outside of windows then spray them with water so they can cool off air coming through them.

      None of that works in high humidity. Those are all strategies involving the evaporative cooling effect. When the dewpoint approaches the ambient temperature, there is no evaporative cooling effect. You’re just increasing the humidity in your immediate vicinity.

  28. See that smile that Idaho is wearing? I live in the middle of that. The funny thing is that it is nowhere near as hot here as it should be. It’s July 20th and we usually have 100 degree weather well before now. But it has been unseasonably “not hot”. Hard to understand. 85 as a high today and 73 now. WTF? Not that I am complaining, but it is as upside down here as it is in Minnesota. That’s enough to make anybody nervous.

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