OTTUMWA — Perhaps the only good weather news is that Ottumwa isn't likely to break any records for daytime highs in the coming week. Other than that, it's going to be miserable.
Summer is laughing at people who thought it was losing its grip on southeast Iowa. The first sustained temperatures above 90 degrees arrive in the last week of August with little prospect of relief until at least next week.
The forecast also raises the very real possibility Ottumwa will end August without any additional rainfall. That would bring the month to a close with less than an inch of precipitation and no measurable rain since Aug. 7.
Area residents are less than thrilled. When asked how they planned to stay cool, most answered “air conditioning.” That's exactly the right answer, experts say, along with drinking plenty of liquids and avoiding strenuous activities during the day's heat.
Brandon Holstrom of the American Red Cross said Monday morning there had not yet been a request to open cooling shelters in Ottumwa, but that people need to take the heat seriously.
“We always recommend that people go to the movie theater, the mall, public places that have air conditioning,” he said.
The Red Cross office on East Main Street is also open for people who need to get out of the heat.
A number of area schools dismissed early on Monday, including Centerville, Fairfield and Pella, among others. The early dismissals seem likely to continue given the forecast. Highs in the mid- to upper 90s are well above the lower 80s we generally see this time of year. A heat advisory is in effect for the entire state.
Jim Lee of the National Weather Service's Des Moines Office said high temperatures Monday and Tuesday will be near 100 degrees for much of Iowa. It will cool off after that but not by much. Temperatures in the 90s are expected to remain in place at least through next weekend.