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Heat dome isn’t going anywhere

County attempts to rob range fires of their spark

POSTED August 1, 2011 5:04 p.m.
Chuck Smith/

Paula Lloyd, center, receives a plaque from Emp...

So far, it appears, the continued local burning ban has been doing its job, Emergency Risk Manager Amy Miller told the Barton County Commission Monday.
Commissioners approved continuing it for another week, in reaction to worsening drought conditions.
Miller said there were no reports to her of additional range fires, but she knows that fire chiefs around Barton County are keeping a close control on any open burning. It will only take a spark to get a serious range fire going, and that would be tragic in the current heat.
Those who don’t pay attention to the conditions risk an expensive lesson, she added. In addition to the responsibility for fire damage, they could also face fines “of up to $2,500,” she reported.
Conditions here are getting worse, too, Miller reported.
“Barton County has seen more acres move into extreme drought during the last week, as defined by the U.S. Drought Monitor. The intensity of the drought has expanded in the county, and areas of exceptional drought in Stafford County continue to move northward to the Barton/Stafford County line. Individuals seeking more drought information should go to the U.S. Drought Portal at and the Wichita office web site of the National Weather Service at”
It seems that even tropical storms can’t break the drought, according to the Associated Press.
It reported that the storm that many had hoped would bring some relief to parched areas of South Texas passed Saturday after dropping less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain — good news only for the cotton farmers who were ready to resume their harvest.
The National Hurricane Center said its advisory on what was once known as Tropical Storm Don would be its last as the remnants passed into northern Mexico. Don had failed to live up to even low expectations by tropical storm standards and was downgraded earlier to a tropical depression.
“There’s really not much left of it,” said Barry Goldsmith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Brownsville. “It’s a done deal.”
What has settled over the nation is a serious weather challenge, according to information from the Associated Press.
Vast amounts of warmth and moisture have become trapped under a huge “heat dome,” bringing record-breaking temperatures and thick, topical air to scores of cities from the Plains to the Ohio Valley. Now the system is moving east to spread the misery to some of the country’s most densely populated areas through the weekend.
The heat dome forms when a high pressure system develops in the upper atmosphere, causing the air below it to sink and compress because there’s more weight on top. That raises temperatures in the lower atmosphere.
The dome of high pressure also pushes the jet stream and its drier, cooler air, farther north — it’s now well into Canada — while hot, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico circulates clockwise around the dome, traveling farther inland than normal.

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