Tuesday's toasty temps launch lingering heat wave

Posted July 19, 2011 6:42 a.m. EDT
Updated July 19, 2011 7:53 p.m. EDT

— The Triangle saw some toasty temperatures Tuesday with a high of 96 degrees, but the heat index made it feel like the low 100s.

"It looks like this is only the beginning as we inch up to 97 tomorrow, 99 Thursday and then the core of the heat wave getting here on Friday and Saturday with temperatures right around the century mark," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. 

Heat indexes, which peaked at 102 degrees in the Triangle and 103 degrees in Fayetteville, were also expected to climb as the week progresses, Fishel said.

Heat advisories are in effect for Wake, Durham, Johnston, Sampson, Harnett, Moore, Franklin, Orange, Cumberland, Hoke, Lee, Wayne, Edgecombe, Nash, Halifax, Warren, Vance, Granville and Wilson counties from noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday. The National Weather Service issues these advisories when the heat index is expected to reach 105 to 110 degrees for three or more hours.

Scattered afternoon showers are possible Wednesday as well.

After a 100-degree weekend, scorching temperatures are expected to stick around through next week.

This summer has been exceptionally hot, with temperatures hitting the high 90s at the end of May, spiking in early June and now for the second time this month.

Colby Lambert, agriculture extension agent in Cumberland County, said the heat has killed about 80 percent of the county's corn crop and that other crops are experiencing heat stress.

People in downtown Fayetteville braced for a sweltering afternoon, but some said they're grateful that North Carolina hasn't suffered through a heat wave like the one beating down on the Midwest, where heat indexes have hit 120 degrees.

Emily Junius, a Wisconsin native, was walking her dog downtown Tuesday morning, when temperatures were still in the mid-80s. She said the heat wave in her home state is unusual, and that she thinks heat waves in North Carolina are more frequent with more intense sunshine.

In recent days, heat indexes in Wisconsin have climbed above 100 degrees.

"It's usually really mild in the summer – 60s, 70s, 80s, a couple days in the 90s. Now they're in a heat wave right now as well," Junius said.