Week’s heat could set August record
This week could go down as the warmest final week of August in South Dakota’s recorded history, according to the National Weather Service.
With high temperatures in the 90s to 100s across the state throughout the week and lows only in the 70s, the mean temperature (the average between the maximum and minimum) is expected to be from one to three degrees warmer than the warmest final week of August on record.
Monday’s high temperature in Mitchell was 94 degrees, short of the record 106 set in 1976.
The weather is already affecting school calendars only a week after the start of classes. Across the state, some schools that lack air conditioning are releasing students early this week.
One of those schools is Ethan, where Superintendent Terry Eckstaine said none of the classrooms is air conditioned.
“The Ethan School will dismiss at 1:15 p.m. on Monday through Thursday with buses running at 1:20 p.m.,” he said in a release to parents Friday. “Please make arrangements for your children to be in a safe and cool environment.”
He told The Daily Republic on Monday that school officials may consider putting air conditioning in classrooms. But he said there aren’t many days in a school year that the school would use the air conditioning — maybe 10 to 15, which isn’t much use in comparison to the investment.
The Mitchell School District will not dismiss early, said Superintendent Joe Graves. All Mitchell schools are air conditioned, with the exception of two classrooms at the high school.
Davison, Sanborn, Miner, McCook, Hutchinson, Bon Homme, Douglas, Charles Mix, Aurora, Jerauld, Buffalo, Brule, Gregory and Lyman counties were all in a heat advisory Monday through at least today. Temperatures are forecast to be in the high 90s, near 100, combined with dew points in the upper 60s to mid 70s, according to National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, which causes heat indexes of around 105 degrees.
“To avoid the heat is the simplest thing to remember,” said Jeff Chapman, meteorologist with National Weather Service in Sioux Falls. “If you have to do stuff outdoors, it’s better to do it in the early morning hours or the late evening.”
He said the high heat and humidity is particularly dangerous for the young and elderly. Parents and caretakers of children should be mindful, he said, to avoid leaving children in hot vehicles. According to the NWS website, the temperature inside a vehicle can rise 20 degrees in about 10 minutes, and 50 degrees in an hour.
Zoei Schmidt, 6, left, of Mitchell, dumps two cups of water on Zane Carson-Walker, 5, right, of Parkston, as Zane’s younger brother, Davey, 4, is caught in the middle during a water fight Monday afternoon in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)
Everyone should stay hydrated by drinking water or other non-carbonated, non-alcoholic and caffeinefree drinks, and stay cool by wearing light-colored and lightweight clothing.
“If you do need to be outside, stay in the shade,” he said.
Chapman also stressed pet owners should be mindful of providing appropriate shelter and water for animals and not leave them in hot cars.
In North Dakota, classes were canceled through Wednesday at five elementary schools in Fargo that are not fully air-conditioned. Temperatures inside the buildings on Sunday ranged from 85 degrees to 90 degrees, according to Fargo Schools Superintendent Jeff Schatz.
“The biggest thing is the evening temps are not falling below 70 or the high 60s,” he told The Forum newspaper. “The schools just don’t get the chance to cool down.”
School officials in North Dakota’s largest city will evaluate the temperature situation Wednesday to determine whether additional cancellations are prudent, he said.
“We’re always going to err on the side of safety for our students and our staff,” Schatz said. “The quality of education that goes on when it’s warm just isn’t what we’d like to see.”
Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid- to upper 90s throughout the week in South Dakota, with a slight cooling trend into the weekend, according to the NWS.
The area will probably not set any high temperature records, since the record highs are all over 102.
Some record warmest overnight lows could be set, Chapman said. Monday morning had a low of 77 degrees, and the record highest minimum temperature for Monday was 75 on Aug. 26, 1980. Chapman said that although the record was not official yet because the day wasn’t over, he was confident 77 would be a record high minimum.
“We might give the overnight warmest lows a run for their money,” Chapman said.
He is optimistic the heat will only last through next week. NWS forecasts a cold front moving through by next weekend that could cool temperatures down by 20 degrees.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.