Weather Roundup: It's going to be hot and humid through FridayWisconsin News
-- Crowds are already gathering at Milwaukee’s sweltering lakefront, where a huge holiday fireworks show is planned for tonight.
MILWAUKEE - Crowds are already gathering at Milwaukee’s sweltering lakefront, where a huge holiday fireworks show is planned for tonight.
Campers spent the night outside to save prime viewing spots – and they sweated through a warm-and-humid night in which it got no cooler than 79-degrees. By seven o’clock, it was already 80 in Milwaukee, and 81 in Watertown – where the mercury hit 101 yesterday with more of the same expected today. And it’s not any cooler along much of Lake Michigan because of a warm front that’s stalled over the Badger State. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning from now through Friday for parts of western and southern Wisconsin.
Other parts of the state are under heat advisories. It’s bone dry in the southern part of the state. But northern Wisconsin had a parade of thunderstorms go through last night and early today. Parts of Florence, Langlade, and Forest counties had 2-to-3 inches of rain over a 24-hour period. And the Weather Service said Forest County had widespread storm damage. But it didn’t do much to cool things off. Seven o’clock temperatures were in the upper-60’s to low-70’s in most of central and northern Wisconsin. And the Public Service utility said over 13-thousand electric customers were still without power in far north central and northeast Wisconsin as of 7:45.
Hot weather is normally great for growing corn – but a lack of rain is causing problems. Officials say only half of Wisconsin’s corn crop is in good-to-excellent condition. The average height is 40-inches, but that varies – even within the same farm field. And there’s a lot of curling and other signs of stress with the corn. About a quarter of it is rated poor-to-very-poor, as the ground below it literally thirsts for rain. Sixty-two percent of Wisconsin farm fields are either short or very-short of moisture. Madison only had about a third-of-an-inch of rain in June, the lowest ever for the month. And until this morning, La Crosse only had a trace of rain since June 21st. Just three-percent of Wisconsin’s soybeans have bloomed, and almost half the crop is rated good-to-excellent. Officials say weeds have become a problem. Oats are doing well, with two-thirds in good-to-excellent shape. And two-thirds of the second hay crop is in. But experts say farmers will be in trouble if the state doesn’t get some good, soaking rains soon. Forecasters say southern Wisconsin probably won’t get any rain at least until the weekend. And after this morning, there’s only a slight chance for more showers in the north for the rest of the week. Crandon reported three-point-one inches of rain in a 24-hour period. But heavy deluges like that generally wash off, instead of sinking into the ground.
Around 15,000 electric customers in Wisconsin are without power – and without air conditioning – as the state braces for another hot day. Most outages are in the far north, where the Wisconsin Public Service utility reported almost 13,000 customers without power as of 5:15. Most of those outages were in the Rhinelander, Minocqua, Eagle River, and Wabeno areas. That’s after heavy thunderstorms have paraded through the northern half of the state since last night. Oshkosh had 70-mile-an-hour winds. The Oshkosh and Waupaca areas had golf-ball sized hail. Widespread wind damage was reported in Forest County. Trees and power lines fell there – as well at Bruce in Rusk County and Mercer in Iron County. Ladysmith had a flash flood overnight. As of 5:30, no place in Wisconsin had severe storm warnings or watches. Madison broke a 101-year-old heat record yesterday with a high of 97 degrees. Marshfield set a new record high at 94. Readings of 101 were reported at Watertown and 100 at Janesville. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for west central Wisconsin all the way through Thursday evening, where highs are expected to reach the mid-90’s to 102 each day with the heat index approaching 110. Southern Wisconsin could also be in for triple-digit highs each day through Friday.