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Cool snap brings heat relief to Arkansas

Posted: July 28, 2014 - 7:10pm

The dog days of summer are being ushered in with a whimper.

A cold front headed for Oklahoma and Arkansas will bring unseasonably cool temperatures and a chance of rain through next week, weather forecasters said Monday.

It’s normally the hottest time of the year, with highs averaging around 95 degrees and nighttime lows in the 70s. But National Weather Service meteorologist Matthew Day said the cool snap will push highs closer to 80 degrees with lows in the 60s through early next week.

“Looks like on Wednesday we may even see some highs in the 70s,” Day said from the Norman, Oklahoma, office. “I really think it’s just kind of an anomaly. It’s basically a front moving through, a pretty strong one at that.”

It’s the second cold front to alter the region’s summertime weather patterns this month. The cold fronts are a harbinger of El Nino, a prolonged warming of Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures that generally results in cooler air, according to Sean Clarke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Little Rock, Arkansas.

“We’re basically in a transition to an El Nino year right now,” Clarke said. The chance of an El Nino affecting weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere is about 70 percent this summer and close to 80 percent during the fall and early winter, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center says.

The last El Nino occurred in 2009, when temperatures were also cooler than normal, Clarke said.

“That’s the effect for Arkansas. It’s not the effect for the entire country,” he said.

The cooler forecast is expected to give people who work outdoors a break. Valley Herrin, owner of All Asphalt Paving & Concrete of Edmond, Oklahoma, said in a typical summer, it’s difficult for crews to work with asphalt and other materials that can be several hundred degrees when applied.

“It’s extremely hard. You’ve got to stay hydrated,” Herrin said. “Just about everything you work with is roughly about 350 (degrees) to 450 (degrees). It kind of makes you feel like you can’t catch your breath.”

Chris Wright, an outside sales estimator for Elliott Roofing in Oklahoma City, said the cooler weather could allow roofers to work through afternoons — usually the warmest part of the day.

“We’re constantly making sure that they’re hydrated, that’ they’ve got water,” Wright said. But as a precaution, crews are pulled off jobs during the afternoon to prevent heat-related medical conditions and return in the early evening, he said.

The cooler forecast may also permit roofers to work on steeply pitched roofs that are more labor-intensive, Wright said.

Herrin said showers expected to accompany the cold front could slow progress on the jobs.

“That will be a hindrance. But for the most part it will help,” Herrin said.

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