Behind the Heat Wave - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Behind the Heat Wave

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Hot summer days are not out of the ordinary in August. But it is unusual for our hottest weather of the year to occur heading into September.

The hot weather is a hot topic. KSFY talked with the National Weather Service to see if heat waves like this are common in our climate or perhaps a sign of climate change.

"Through Labor Day weekend and even that first part of September, it does look like we're in a pretty good chance of staying above normal," said Mike Gillispie of the National Weather Service.

So, we may have to get used to the warm weather for a while. High pressure is currently allowing hot, humid air to come up from the south, but there might also be other reasons behind this heat wave.

"Part of it could be that our planting season got started later than normal this year with the late spring, the late start to the summer, that the corn crop is at a little different level of maturity right now and that corn puts off an awful lot of moisture through evapotranspiration and that increases the dew points," said Gillispie.

Dew points indicate the amount moisture in the air. When the dew point approaches 75 degrees, most people can "feel" the thickness of the air as they breathe, since the water vapor content is so high.

"The actual high temperatures, we're really not setting very many high temperature records right now. The reason it's been seeming so warm is the low temperatures are staying up so high and we've got dew point temperatures running in the upper 60s to lower 70s which is kind of abnormal for this year," said Gillispie.

But, Gillispie says you can't really tie today's weather into the long them climate. On the other hand…

"One of the things that we have seen recently that can be probably attributed to climate change is the number of extreme events both hot and cold, both wet and dry," said Gillispie.

And more weather extremes means intense weather events, such as lengthy droughts, heat waves, heavy rain and violent storms, may become more frequent.

"On a global scale, if it continues to warm there could be impacts," said Gillispie.

Things like agriculture, insects, bacteria, and viruses could all be affected, but Gillispie doesn't rush to any conclusions.

"There's still a lot of uncertainty as to what drives long term climate," said Gillispie.

While we are feeling the burn, folks in Alaska and much of the Arctic are facing record challenging cold. Gillispie says this is nature's way of trying to balance things out.

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