It feels just like a heat wave. Because it is one.
For more than a week now, an area of land reaching from Texas to the Dakotas has seen temperatures remain steadily in the 90s, with heat index values well into the 100s.
Although Todd Heitkamp, meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS), said the area could see a slight cool-down in the middle of this past week, it will be a while yet before southeast South Dakota residents see any major relief.
The temperatures are going to be at or above normal for this time of year into the weekend, he said.
On Tuesday, NWS data showed that while the Vermillion area had a high temperature close to 99 degrees, the heat index values showed as high was 115.
The next days high was pegged at 101 degrees, with heat index values as high as 118.
For their part, the NWS has released excessive heat warnings throughout the week, beginning last Friday.
This time of year, usually when we get this type of weather, its just kind of like putting a lid on a pressure cooker, Heitkamp said. Its just going to keep all the heat in place and its just going to regenerate day after day and really never get a chance to pop that lid off until we get a cold front that sweeps through.
Although heat levels such as these can be downright miserable, Heitkamp said, they are not foreign to South Dakota. At this time last year, the average temperature experienced in Sioux Falls was 92, while Sioux City showed 94.
If you look at the history books, it shows that typically this time of year is when we have our warmest days of the year, so this is not unheard of, Heitkamp said. This is not something that has never happened before.
I think a lot of people think its something new just because the memory isnt as good we only remember what happened in the past couple years as opposed to the past 20 years, he said.
Heitkamp encouraged people to use basic common sense in dealing with the extreme temperatures.
Drink plenty of water, make sure they take plenty of breaks, remain in the shade or in the house, check on the elderly and be aware of the very young. Those are the two age groups most susceptible to extreme heat, he said.
He also reminded residents that going to the pool will be their best chance at combating the heat.
That will cool the surface of the skin, but it doesnt cool the inner core body temperature at all, Heitkamp said. So, if you stay in the pool all day long, a person could just as easily have heat exhaustion or heat stroke as they do working outside.
By the end of the week, the jet stream related to the heat wave will have begun to move east, bringing its high temperatures to the coast.
However, this may not spell long-term relief for Vermillion residents. As of press time, the NWS data indicated area temperatures could stay near the upper 80s to low 90s through Monday at least.
For the latest weather updates, visit the Web site of the South Dakota office of the National Weather Service, which is located at http://www.crh.noaa.gov/fsd/.