After moderate summer, temperatures heating up

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 | 5:46 p.m. CDT; updated 7:26 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, August 20, 2014

COLUMBIA — More than halfway through this relatively cool summer, the longest stretch of temperatures topping 90 degrees was just two days. 

This week promises to bring the hottest temperatures of the summer, with five consecutive days in the mid-90s beginning Wednesday and heat indexes near or exceeding 100.

The hot spell will be more characteristic for August weather in Columbia.

The highest temperature recorded this year by the National Weather Service at Columbia Regional Airport was 95 degrees on July 26.  Last year's high reached 100 degrees twice in August.

The number of days that have exceeded 90 degrees this year was 10 compared to 14 days by Aug. 18 of last year.  This week's temperatures won't do much to even that ratio. The same week last year brought temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees that lasted for 11 days straight. 

The apex of this week's forecast will be Thursday afternoon when the relative humidity boosts the forecast heat index to 102 degrees.  Beyond Wednesday night, there is little chance of precipitation until next week. 

For companies such as Tiger Ice, the hot weather and the imminent return of thousands of college students to Columbia creates a major sales opportunity.

"We're looking forward to it," said Andy Jira, the general manager of Tiger Ice. "Our business is pretty dependent on the weather."

Tiger Ice expects to do well this week, despite having an off-year in sales, Jira said.

On any given weekend, a 10 to 15 degree temperature difference can make a substantial difference in sales, Jira said, and less demand usually means cutting expansion and maintenance costs over the winter.

"You have to be prepared for cooler summers," Jira said. When it's an off year in sales, "you take what you can get," he said. "It's kind of like being a farmer."

The National Weather Service has not issued any advisories related to the high temperatures, but an excessive heat watch was posted for St. Louis beginning Wednesday afternoon and lasting through Sunday evening.

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