The Heat Waves That Powered the Dust Bowl is Now Twice as Liable. In the summer of 2021, Oklahoma experienced one of the worst heat waves in history, with temperatures up to 120 degrees above normal. In some areas, the temperature topped out over 100 degrees. The culprit: heat-absorbing desert vegetation.
The Heat Waves That Powered the Dust Bowl Are Now Twice as Liable. This summer, Oklahoma experienced one of the strongest heat waves in history. The National Weather Service, which runs the state’s weather service, issued a weather alert, or a “heat warning,” for much of the state. It warned of record heat waves. The National Weather Service, it stated, “received numerous calls from area residents concerned about possible heatwaves or damaging hot flashes associated with temperatures that approached or exceeded the high heat index.”
Heatwaves are a misleading term, at least when it comes to describing today’s climate. They are not actually caused by increasing temperatures. Instead, they are caused by a rise in average temperatures across an entire region for an extended period of time. Even a week or more during summer can generate heat waves. The most popular weather model, the NAM model, projects that the United States may experience four heat waves this summer, although no clear signal has yet emerged from multiple simulations.
In the mid to late summer, high pressure can build in the eastern part of the country. This can cause the warm, humid air to be pushed eastward. The heat waves that powered the dust bowl are now being seen along the Gulf Coast and the western side of the Great Lakes.
When this high pressure pushes against the cooler southern air, the temperature difference between the indoors and outdoors is gradually created. This temperature difference is what causes daytime temperatures in summer to feel much cooler than they would otherwise. As the interior temperature drops, daytime highs and nighttime lows also drop. This creates the “morning fog” that many people associate with low humidity. But the fog can also help to keep heating inside.
As high pressure builds in the interior, daytime temperatures can still warm up before dawn, but nighttime temperatures will quickly fall as the high humidity dissipates. The result is that daytime highs and nighttime lows remain near their current levels, allowing daytime temperatures to warm up steadily. However, because daytime highs are typically cooler, the wind can continue to push heat toward the coastal areas, further heating things up. This can set up what is known as coastal current for the coming season.
As mentioned, these high winds can push warm air farther into the interior of the United States than they canalo or east across the southern states. This makes sense when you think about how much heat moves around this country. The winds blow from the southwest across the interior to the northeast where it meets cooler air and moves it closer to the coast. Coastal current winds push southwest to northeast winds, which often push warm air inland and can add much-needed warmth to the areas being forced to deal with the heat waves.
All of this means that coastal areas that are forced to deal with the high humidity during the summertime should be particularly concerned with the high precipitation that the wind can bring. When it comes to climate change predictions, there are two important things to remember. First, those who live in the western portion of the country should prepare for more rain, and second, that the high winds from the winter will push the moisture northward and to the south. Those who live in the eastern half of the country will find that the high winds tend to move the moisture eastward and out towards the Atlantic. By preparing now for what the high winds can bring, you can take steps to protect yourself and your family against the damaging effects of these heat waves that powered the dust bowl.