Temperatures in the Natural State are going to continue to be high until a smidge of relief arrives on Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
“Heat index values will peak near or over 110 for most of the state,” a tweet from the weather service said around 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, “An Excessive Heat Warning is in effect for all of Arkansas today and Wednesday,”
In Little Rock, temperatures will be around 100 degrees and remain high through Friday, according to Jim Reynolds, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.
“We are expecting to see a bit of an increase day-to-day,” Reynolds said.
The heat index values in Little Rock on Tuesday were 112 degrees, meaning the humidity in the air made the temperatures feel warmer, the forecaster said Tuesday before 11:30 a.m..
Reynolds said the highest heat index value was 117 degrees in the town of Overcup in Conway County, a bit northeast of Morrilton.
It is not just Central Arkansas or the Metro area facing these high temperatures due to the heat dome, the forecaster said.
The term “heat dome” is used to describe where the heat is being concentrated, which right now if much of the state, he said.
“This area of high pressure is big and broad that nowhere in Arkansas ins getting the brunt of it alone, it is hot all over,” Reynolds said, “It is always a bit cooler in areas with higher elevations, like the Ozarks, but even now we aren’t seeing that much of a difference.”
The meteorologist said that while the heat is around ten degrees above average, the temperatures are not record-breaking.
“We’re going through a spell of hot weather,” Reynolds said, “In Little Rock, we’ve had nine consecutive days of temperatures at or over 100 degrees. In 1980 in Little Rock, there were 47 days in a row. It could be a lot worse.”
On Saturday, the high for Little Rock is forecast to be near 98 degrees, which Reynolds said is the beginning of good news.
“We could even see highs closer to 90 on Monday,” Reynolds said, “And – it is seven days out so be careful with how much you believe – but right now we are looking at a high of 87 forecast in Little Rock on Tuesday.”
“We’ve got to get through Friday to start seeing a bit of relief on Saturday,” he said.
Several counties in the state have placed a burn ban as of just after 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon.
White, Faulkner, Miller, Lafayette, Hempstead, Nevada, Ashley and Chicot County have put a burn ban into place, according to the Arkansas Department of Agriculture website.
The southern two-thirds of the state has been labeled as a “moderate” risk of wildfires, another map from the department showed Tuesday afternoon.
Various areas around the state have opened up cooling centers to allow Arkansans to get out of the heat.
The City of Little Rock has opened five areas to act as cooling centers through Saturday for residents who need a safe space to get a break from the heat, a news release from the city said.
The following cooling centers will be open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.:
— Dunbar Community Center, 1001 W. 16th Street
— East Little Rock Community Center, 2500 E. Sixth Street
— Southwest Community Center, 6401 Baseline Road
— Stephens Community Center, 3720 W. 18th Street
— West Central Community Center, 8616 Colonel Glenn Road
“In addition, the City takes steps to protect its employees during periods of extreme heat. The City suspends outdoor work if heat index values are expected to reach 105 degrees or higher. In that event, yard waste pickup is delayed,” the release said Monday.
North Little Rock
The North Little Rock Community Center, located at 2700 Willow Street, will serve as a cooling center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Saturday, a tweet from the city’s police department said Monday. Vending machines are available and pets are welcome.
The Don Owens Sports Center, located at 10 Lower Ridge Road, will be open as a cooling center, the Conway Parks and Recreation Facebook page said Tuesday.
The center is open from 7 a.m until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, it is open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The McGee Center is currently closed for maintenance, the post said.
ENTERGY HELPING GIVE LOW-INCOME CUSTOMERS FANS
Entergy is working to provide fans to low-income customers and communities with their annual “Beat the Heat’ fan drive program.
“Over the last several months, Entergy Arkansas has been committed to supporting Arkansans during the high-energy usage months of summer,” a news release from Entergy said Tuesday.
The program hopes to help provide relief from the heat and potentially save customers money on their energy bill, the release said.
“Heating and cooling costs make up about 55% of an average customer’s electric bill, so taking steps to save energy can help customers better manage usage when temperatures are hot. Placing fans strategically throughout a room can help supplement the use of air conditioning and help the room feel several degrees cooler,” the release said.
The release mentioned several organizations Entergy partnered with across the state to help distributed fans:
— Ozark Center of Hope – Mountain Home
— Arkansas River Valley Area Council – Russellville
— Mississippi County Arkansas Economic Opportunity Commission – Blytheville
— Black River Area Development Corp. – Pocahontas
— Watershed Human Community Development Agency – Little Rock
— Area Agency on Aging – Pine Bluff
Matt Ramsey, a spokesman for Entergy, said that Arkansans need to contact their local community action agency to get information about how to obtain a fan.
“Entergy provides the funds but the agencies are responsible for distribution,” he said Tuesday afternoon.
“The goal is that Entergy customers should get the first dibs on fans, but it is up to those agencies,” Ramsey said, “Though all of the areas we’ve partnered with primarily serve Entergy customers.”
He said that at the moment, the idea was that a household should get one fan through the the program. Entergy has spent over $6,000 on fans this year.
TIPS TO STAY COOL
Reynolds said that if Arkansans are working outside they should stay in the shade and take a lot of water breaks.
“You really need to keep slamming the water,” the forecaster said, “Just yesterday I went to do some work in my backyard after the sun started to set and it was amazing how hot it still was. Just because the sun isn’t there doesn’t mean the really hot conditions are gone.”
He also said Arkansans with pets should be mindful of their paws and avoid walking them on sidewalks or pavement during the really hot part of the day to avoid burning their paws.