Emphasis - July 6
10:52 am
Fri July 6, 2012

The Heat Wave and Drought

Rich Eggers' guest is Dr Tom Williams, Associate Professor of Geography at Western Illinois University. They talk about the recent heat wave and the year-long drought in the region.

"Farmers are rightfully quite concerned about the growing drought threat and the fact that the forecast for the next week doesn't hold a lot of hope for any significant rainfall," Williams said.

He said there has been below normal rainfall in just about every month since June 2011. There was little impact on crops last year because there was "...such a huge soil moisture reserve built up." Williams said farmers were helped this year because they were able to get into the field to plant earlier than usual.

Williams said the heat wave is being caused by a large ridge of high pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere.

"When you have ridges of high pressure the air sinks, and when the air sinks it warms up. So you are creating in essence a very large heat dome over the area." Williams said that ridge is centered over southern Missouri and southern Illinois.

He expected the ridge to shift its position to the west late this weekend, which will allow the upper level flow to come out of the northwest and bring with it cooler and drier air.

Williams said it's best to be inside during the hottest part of the day (mid-afternoon into the early evening hours). He said those who must be outside should wear light colored and lightweight clothing, take frequent breaks, and drink a lot of water.