Baby, it’s hot outside.
Just a week after Great Bend celebrated Christmas in July, the weather turned decidedly un-Christmas like with the mercury peaking near or at the century mark. The more seasonal High Plains temperatures came as a jolt to a region that had experienced a rather mild summer so far.
The temps prompted the National Weather Service to issue an excessive heat warning for much of Kansas, including Barton County. It went into effect Wednesday afternoon and stays in place through Saturday evening with lows hovering in the 70s.
This means Heat Index Values will be between 105 and 108 due to afternoon temperatures from the upper 90s in southeast Kansas and 100 to near 105 in south central, and central Kansas through Friday. Dew points will range from the mid 60s to mid 70s, and southerly winds will gust up to 30 miles per hour.
Impacts can be heat related illnesses due to the prolonged period of heat and humidity, the NWS notes. The most susceptible are the elderly, the very young and animals.
So, Barton County Health Director Shelly Schneider notes, now is the time to prepare.
She offered the following tips:
• Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening. Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water.
• To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency. Call 911.
• An excessive heat warning means that a prolonged period of dangerously hot temperatures will occur. The combination of heat and humidity will create a dangerous situation where heat illnesses are likely.
• Drink plenty of fluids, but make sure they are not too cold and you are not drinking them too fast. Stay and stay in air conditioned rooms if possible, but if not, cool clothes and moving air helps keep the body’s temperatures at a lower degree. Stay out of the sun and check up on relatives and neighbors. Temperatures within vehicles can become lethal in a few minutes.
• Never leave children or pets in vehicles. Remember to beat the heat, check the backseat.
It is never a good idea to leave pets or children in cars, no matter how short term you consider the time to be.
Counties included are Russell, Lincoln, Barton, Ellsworth, Saline, Rice, McPherson, Marion, Chase, Reno, Harvey, Butler, Greenwood, Woodson, Allen, Kingman, Sedgwick, Harper, Sumner, Cowley, Elk, Wilson, Neosho, Chautauqua, Montgomery and Labette.
This takes in the cities of Russell, Lincoln, Sylvan Grove, Great Bend, Ellsworth, Wilson, Salina, Lyons, Sterling, McPherson, Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody, Cottonwood Falls, Strong City, Hutchinson, Newton, El Dorado, Augusta, Andover, Rose Hill, Eureka, Madison, Yates Center, Iola, Humboldt, Kingman, Derby, Haysville, Bel Aire, Park City, Valley Center, Wichita, Anthony, Harper, Attica, Wellington, Winfield, Arkansas City, Howard, Moline, Longton, Grenola, Neodesha, Fredonia, Chanute, Sedan, Cedar Vale, Coffeyville, Independence and Parsons.
The forecast calls for the heat wave to break on Sunday with high of 93. High temperatures starting next week will be in the upper 80s.