Summer heat makes return

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Friday, September 2, 2011
— It’s not so much the heat as it is the humidity.

And whether you’re enjoying this latest last breath of summer or wishing it would just go away, you should know it’s going to be short lived.

The National Weather Service reported it reached 93 degrees Thursday afternoon, 12 degrees higher than the average of 81 for Sept. 1, according to readings at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport. The heat index was 102 degrees.

Sept. 1, the daytime high fell below records of 102 degrees set in Rockford in 1953 and 99 degrees in Madison several years back, said Jake Wimberley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Sullivan.

But it was still plenty warm.

Thursday afternoon at the Janesville Frosty Freeze on West Court Street, Menasha resident Tina Hanson was eating a vanilla twist ice cream cone in the hazy sun. It was 4:30 p.m., and her ice cream was dripping onto a table faster than she could eat it.

“This is the kind of weather I like,” Hanson said. “I’m actually enjoying it.”

Wimberley said it’s not unheard of in Southern Wisconsin for highs in early September to top 90 degrees for a day or two. But what is unusual is the relative humidity. The dew point Thursday was in the mid-70s.

“That’s swampy,” Wimberley said. “Usually, the most humid part of summer is over by now, and you’d see dew points in the 50s. In that range, you get much drier, more comfortable daytimes.”

The warming trend happened in the last two days as a Canadian cold front dipped into the far upper Midwest, pulling moist, warm air up from the Gulf of Mexico.

The heat and humidity is expected to stick around through today, with highs around 90 degrees and a chance of rain cropping up, Wimberley said.

But the same cool air mass that dragged in warm, soupy air will start to move east over the weekend, pulling the heat and humidity away. That will bring cooler, drier air, Wimberley said.

As Labor Day weekend stretches out, it will keep getting cooler and drier, with temperatures tapering off to the 80s on Saturday and the 70s on Sunday. Daytime highs should bottom out in the mid-60s by Monday.

It’s expected to stay dry throughout the weekend.

“It will be a nice little taste of early fall,” Wimberley said.

Hanson ate her ice cream and said she hopes it doesn’t cool off that much in the next few days. She said the thought makes her miss summer already.

“It won’t be long and I’ll be wishing for these 90s again,” she said.

Last updated: 6:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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