Dennis Todey

High temperatures in the southwestern U.S. are forecast to climb as high as 118 degrees over the next few days and there are fears that extreme heat could expand into the Midwest.

Meteorologist Dennis Todey, director of the U.S.D.A.’s Midwest Climate Hub in Ames, says he’s concerned Iowa’s drought conditions will continue to worsen. “The Southwest right now, because of the dry conditions, that tends to reinforce that dome of high pressure,” Todey says. “There are hints in the models about it sticking that way but the models aren’t consistent of saying that’s going to be the case and it’s definitely going to move over you folks.”

Forecasters are calling for warmer-than-normal highs this week across Iowa, again, in the 80s and 90s with little chance for rain. Summer starts this coming weekend so we’re heading into the hot months. “By the time we reach mid-June, we’re worried about average precipitation and precipitation starts to fall off, climatologically,” Todey says. “We still have warm periods ahead of us, so it still has me concerned.”

The computer forecast models are still not providing a clear picture of what may lie ahead. “Does it kind of break down a little bit and as we say warmer-than-average and cooler-than-average bouncing back and forth or does it lock in?” Todey says. “Right now, we haven’t seen it lock in just yet so we’re being optimistic but there’s not good indicators on this overall, other than what we can see in the six- to ten- to 14-day outlooks.”

The latest drought monitor shows about 90% of Iowa is in abnormally dry or drought conditions, with more than half the state under moderate to severe drought.

(By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton)