The National Weather Service in Birmingham forecasts near-record-level, triple-digit temperatures on Friday and Saturday.
Meteorologist Jessica Talley said it is likely that the 1954 record, set at 100 degrees, will be broken this Friday, with temperatures expected to reach 101 degrees. Saturday is forecast to reach 100 degrees, Talley said.
And it’s all because of a bubble.
“There is a bubble of high pressure that is going to settle over much of the U.S.,creating an environment that will not allow for much of a cool down," she said. "This bubble will allow temperatures to crawl into the triple digits across Alabama.”
In meteorological terms, the bubble is referred to as a “ridge of high pressure,” in this case, an upper-level ridge. Areas to the east of the ridge can expect little chance of relief from the heat because air tends to sink in those areas, obstructing the formation of clouds and precipitation.
The ridge, Talley said, might be around for a while.
“It’s really hard to say when any type of relief might be expected,” she said. “The forecast is out through next Monday, with temperatures expected to reach the high 90s.”
Although Anniston could use a little rain — precipitation levels currently sit at 6.63 inches below the expected annual average rainfall for this point in the year — the ridge will prevent the state from feeling the effects of Tropical Storm Debby. The storm is expected to bring another 4 to 8 inches of rain and possible tornadoes to northern Florida, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The blistering heat and little chance of relief, Talley said, warrant precautionary measures.
“These types of temperatures increase the risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses,” she said. “It is important to stay as cool as possible and, if possible, avoid going outside, especially during the middle part of the afternoon.”
The highest temperatures for each day this week were recorded between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
If you must go outside, Talley said, remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and take regular breaks in the shade. It is also crucial, she said, to keep an eye on the elderly, making sure they have proper cooling systems and plenty of available water.
Plants need special care too, said Hayes Jackson, an urban regional extension agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Although the best way to ensure a healthy garden entails preventative measures — using plants that are drought-tolerant — Jackson said he understands that gardeners use what they like, including plants that need plenty of water.
“The best thing to do in that case is to water deeply, but less often,” he said. “When I run sprinklers or water plants, I water until the soil is soaked. That way, I don’t have to water as often.”
Ensuring the soil is soaked allows the water to help create healthy root systems, Jackson said. Soaked soil lasts longer with a good layer of mulch, he added, which helps the soil retain more moisture.
“The best time to water is early in the morning,” he said, which allows plants’ foliage to dry and prevents the retention of droplets that can act like lenses with the sun, creating conditions that burn plants. Watering late at night, he added, is conducive to the spread of disease.
Jackson, who has gardened for more than 30 years, said the forecast is part of a pattern he has witnessed for years.
“We need to start thinking about using plants that are more drought-tolerant,” he said.