High heat, humidity stifle NWA
Coming ‘cool down’ will provide a break from triple digits
The summer’s first heat advisory came Thursday and will continue into the weekend.
A heat index reaching triple digits will last until at least Saturday evening in Northwest Arkansas. Clouds likely will cover the region Sunday afternoon, but the high temperature still will reach the low 90s.
Monday will see a “cool down” with an 87-degree high.
“It looks like it’ll be a respite, I guess I would say, a break in the heat and humidity on Sunday and Monday,” said meteorologist Sarah Corfidi with the National Weather Service in Tulsa, Okla. “Wednesday we’ve got highs back in the lower 90s for Arkansas.”
Kenadie Kestner, 18, and Ona Clark, 17, both of Elkins, didn’t need a memo to know what to do in the heat. The two woke up early for volleyball practice and later headed to the Shave the World snow cone stand on North College Avenue in Fayetteville.
That first blast of stifling air in the morning took Kestner by surprise.
“I said ‘Holy cow, it’s hot out,’” she said, as her shaved ice melted in its cup.
The two usually go swimming when the mercury hits near triple digits. Clark serves as a lifeguard at Wilson Park and said not everyone shares that sentiment.
“There are actually a lot more people when it’s not so hot,” she said. “Whenever it’s hot, it’s almost miserable to be out. Our water gets hot.”
The heat advisory envelopes Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma. Temperatures in the mid 90s to near 100, combined with high humidity, will create dangerous heat index values reaching 105 to 110 degrees in some areas. Nighttime will provide little relief, especially in urban areas, according to the National Weather Service.
Fayetteville Fire Chief David Dayringer said city and county officials have their own heat emergency plans if ambulances respond to more than three heat-related calls in a day or if a heat advisory lasts three days or more. Officials try to flood social media and local media outlets with information on how to stay safe and where to seek refuge.
Cooling stations include the Yvonne Richardson Center, Senior Activity Center and the library in Fayetteville. Springdale residents can go to public places such as the senior center or youth center.
Benton County doesn’t designate official cooling stations but advises residents to seek air conditioning in public spaces such as libraries, stores and community centers, spokeswoman Channing Barker said. Residents should stay mindful of the signs of heat exhaustion, which can include dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea and muscle cramps.
“We encourage everyone to use caution, especially if they work or spend time outside,” she said. “Even if they’re going out to the lake or doing yard work we encourage people to reserve strenuous activities to early morning or late evening.”
The high temperature at the Fayetteville airport Thursday was 92. The regional airport in Highfill recorded a 94-degree high. The heat index reached 102 at both locations.
Other parts of the state didn’t fare as well. Conway and Camden reached 99 degrees, the highest marks in the state so far this year. Fort Smith, Batesville and Walnut Ridge all saw highs of 97 degrees, and Hot Springs reached 96 degrees.
Arkansas’ heat is the result of a ridge of high pressure ridge stalled over eastern Oklahoma and Texas. The ridge, which also was responsible for wildfires in California and Nevada, blocks rain-producing systems from forming over the state and instead deflects them.
Heat kills more people every year than any other type of weather, according to the National Weather Service. Floods, tornadoes, lightning and hurricanes fall far behind.
The Fayetteville Senior Center brings fans to the about 200 residents enlisted in its Meals on Wheels program. Low-income folks tend not to want to run their air conditioning all day or don’t have it at all, said Cayla Wilson, the center’s director.
The center always will accept new fans to take to residents who need them the most.
“It’s just the makings of a bad situation. We see the gamut when it comes to the senior population who needs help,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of them out there and I don’t think people are really aware of our seniors who live in impoverished areas of the city.”
Arturo Torres works Thursday near the Horsebarn Trailhead in Rogers on the Trail of Two Cities, a pedestrian and bike path between Rogers and Bentonville. The trail runs east from the Horsebarn Trailhead in Rogers to Southwest I Street in Bentonville.
Lauren Vrem (left) and Sarah Sykes, both of Kansas City, Mo., drink water Thursday in the shade on the downtown square in Fayetteville. The two were cooling off before going on a hike on the trails at Mount Kessler.
Roberto Estevane cuts re-bar Thursday near the Horsebarn Trailhead in Rogers on the Trail of Two Cities, a pedestrian and bike path between Rogers and Bentonville. The trail meanders west from the Horsebarn Trailhead in Rogers to Southwest I Street in Bentonville.