OTTUMWA — Don't look now, but the heat is coming back.
Iowa has been at or below normal for much of 2013, but this week will see summer return in a big way. High temperatures through Friday are expected to remain in the 90s. That, combined with dewpoints in the 70s, will create the kind of hot, muggy conditions that will have area residents thinking wistfully of snow.
This isn't really that unusual. July sees, on average, the highest temperatures of the year. And they peak right around now. From July 5 through July 23 the average highs are 86 degrees, with the sole exception of July 16. The average that day is 87, the highest on the calendar.
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said the forecast for July in southeast Iowa called for near normal temperatures and rainfall. It was half right. While temperatures have been close to normal, rainfall is running way behind.
“Most of Iowa has been very dry,” he said. “You're probably the driest, lowest total in the state.”
That's a concern. While record spring rains recharged soil moisture, they also kept farmers out of the fields until later than normal. Hillaker said crops that were planted late, especially soybeans, could be at risk if it stays dry.
In terms of temperatures, the month "as a whole hasn't been that unusual,” Hillaker said. This week will see that change, with daytime highs well above normal. But even that will be short-lived.
After temperatures peak Thursday, a front should bring a decent chance of rain and a return to seasonal weather. If that pans out, southeast Iowa could see a very welcome inch or so of rain by the end of the month.
Hillaker cautioned there aren't many cues to go from this year. Long-range forecasts lack the guidance of strong indicators. And the weather itself doesn't seem inclined toward major shifts.
“It's just been a really wishy-washy type of summer,” he said.