GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This week, Grand Rapids will do what it came very close to doing around the Fourth of July: string together three consecutive 90-degree days for an official heat wave.
The heat will be intense enough that we will be in rare air. Enough so the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for Ottawa, Kent and Ionia counties south until 8pm Saturday. Counties to the north are under a excessive heat advisory.
As a precaution, the Ionia Free Fair is delaying carnival rides until 4 p.m. Friday so ride operators won’t be stuck outside during the hottest part of the day. Several West Michigan communities have also opened cooling centers and hydrants for those who need a break from the heat.
After a relatively cool spring and June, the switch has flipped. It’s been a warm July so far with five 90-degree days and several other days reaching the upper-80s. Temperatures through July 16 are running slightly more than 3 degrees above average during the typically warmest month of the calendar.
West Michigan will only add to that margin with the longest and most intense heat of 2019 so far arriving this week.
Rarely does West Michigan get a heat wave without high humidity levels, and this one will be no different in adding to the misery index. Early afternoon dew points in the southern part of the state are a sampling of how “juicy” the air mass is around the Great Lakes.
A warm front lifting into our area Thursday will bring a resurgence of hot and humid air, with dew points in the low to even mid-70s. West Michigan squarely in the “oppressive” dew points category until early next week.
The humidity will also add to how hot it feels outside, with up to an 12-degree difference between the heat index and peak temperatures.
West Michigan isn’t sweating alone. Nearly 30 states from the Midwest to the Southern Plains and East Coast are included in a excessive heat warning, watch or advisory.
Compared to other states, Michigan residents are lucky as the Great Lakes state is well equipped to shrug off the heat. We have over 11,000 inland lakes and one really big one on this side of the state: Lake Michigan. Few things will cool you off quicker than jumping into 60 to 70 degree water.
Please be aware of how dangerous Lake Michigan will be the next couple of days. Larger waves will build this afternoon and strong currents will develop as a result. A Beach Hazard Statement until late Friday from Holland northward. A stronger southerly wind makes the Grand Haven Pier, Pere Marquette and Muskegon particularly hazardous.
HOW TO STAY COOL
If you’re looking to beat the heat, it all starts with what you wear outdoors:
- Make sure you’re putting on something light-colored, as darker absorbs heat. A light, breathable fabric would be ideal as well.
- Stay hydrated with frequent cold glasses of water and try to avoid alcohol, which can dehydrate.
- Take advantage of the shade if you have to be outside. Seek out air-conditioned spots like a movie theater or a grocery store.
- Avoid strenuous activity, especially in direct sunlight.
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Don’t forget our furry friends, who can struggle with the heat just as we do. And if you have an elderly neighbor that does not have air conditioning, it wouldn’t hurt to check in to see how well they are doing.
Eventually, the heat wave will pass. It appears that will happen Sunday when a cold front moves in.
What time of day that happens will determine if the heat wave lingers through Sunday. All forecasting models agree though that a refreshing air mass will arrive early next week.
The latest 8-14 day temperature outlook indicates this current heat wave may be the only one for the month.
The heat can be tough to endure, but a reminder just six months ago we were in the grips of a polar vortex, with wind chills 20 to 30 degrees below zero.
The high temperature was 2 degrees on Jan. 30. That memory alone might be enough to cool you down.