Dog Days of Summer

Extreme heat grips much of the country

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Have you ever heard the expression, "It's hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk"? That's certainly how it feels in most of the country right about now.

A heat dome has caused record-breaking temperatures and extreme heat. A heat dome is a slow-moving weather pattern shaped like an upside down cake pan that traps heat and humidity inside. A heat wave, on the other hand, moves through an area fairly quickly and brings two or three days of very high temperatures.

The heat dome a lot of the nation is dealing with now began as a high-pressure system that rose from the south. It pushed the jet stream north, bringing lots of rain to the Midwest. Due to all the rain and the heavy snowfall this past winter, the soil is very wet. When the sun shines down on this very wet soil, the water in the soil evaporates, going into the air, and making the dew points (or humidity) unusually high.

The heat indices (the temperature and dew point combined) have skyrocketed to over 100 degrees for almost all of the past week. In Oklahoma City, a new record has been set — 50 consecutive days that the temperature has reached 90 degrees or higher. The old record was 49 consecutive days.

It might be a while before the heat dome leaves and temperatures cool down.

When I spoke with our local television meteorologist, Tony Schumacher of New Line 9, WAOW in Wausau, Wisconsin, he shared with me that the heat dome deflects most weather systems. Think of it this way: If you flip a cereal bowl upside down and flick marbles at it, the bowl will deflect the marbles. That's how the heat dome keeps other weather systems away. It would take a major weather patter to finally move it out of our country.

While Americans sweat out the extreme heat, it's important to remember that some people might need help. This is especially true of the elderly who might not have air conditioners, fans, or other ways to stay cool in their homes. Neighbors and friends should check in on the elderly to make sure they are okay. People should also be sure to keep themselves — and their pets — hydrated.

For more news about the heat wave, check out Kid Reporter Alysa Goethe's story about how Iowa is dealing with the dangerous extreme heat.


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  • Subjects:
    Climate, Summer, Weather, Summer Themes

Scholastic Kids Press Corps

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of 32 student reporters who report "news for kids, by kids." Sports, politics, and entertainment are among the topics they cover.