Kansas town hottest spot in nation as heat wave enters fourth day

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 26, 2012 7:01 PM
Kansas town hottest spot in nation as heat wave enters fourth day

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Reuters) - The small Kansas farming town of Hill City earned the dubious distinction of the hottest place in the nation for three consecutive days and had reached 113 degrees on Tuesday as boiling temperatures stretched from southern Texas to the Canadian border.

"Everything is burning up. It's terrible," said Debbie Budig, city clerk in Hill City, a town of 1,474 residents supported mainly by agriculture on the western Kansas Plains.

The nation's highest temperatures were in Hill City at 111 Fahrenheit (44 Celsius) on Saturday, 114 F on Sunday and 111 F on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The temperature hit 113 F in Hill City by midafternoon on Tuesday with winds of 25 miles per hour (40 km per hour) but it was not yet clear if that was the highest in the nation.

Even the local swimming pool was not very busy, said Rene Jackson, manager of the pool. Is only $1.50 to get in the water but it was uncomfortable for swimmers and pool employees alike, she said.

Temperatures topped 100 F on Tuesday from Brownsville at the southern tip of Texas all the way through the Plains states to western North Dakota near the Canadian border, the weather service said. A similar heat wave hit those states last summer, but not as early in the season.

The triple-digit heat is expected to spread east on Wednesday to Iowa and then to Illinois, Indiana and Ohio on Thursday, reaching parts of the East Coast from South Carolina to Washington, D.C. by Friday, according to weather service forecast maps.

But the most intense heat is expected to remain in Kansas, creating a dangerous situation for upcoming July 4 celebrations.

"Fireworks is what scares me," said Hill City's Budig, concerned about fires. "Just one little spark."

Hill City has not ordered any water restrictions, said Janet Brown, who oversees the water system in Hill City. "People are still watering. They want green yards," Brown said.

Temperatures are likely to stay well above 100 F for days as a high-pressure system stalls over the Plains, creating a mass of heat, said Chris Foltz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Goodland, Kansas.

"The longer it sits there, the warmer it gets," Foltz said. "There is nothing to push it up and around. It's going to take some time before we even get into the 90s."

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Greg McCune and Lisa Shumaker)