It's going to be crazy hot this week and here's what you should know about it
With the heat index hitting 96 degrees in Milwaukee on Monday and the temperature forecast to rise to near 100 degrees by Friday across portions of southern Wisconsin, just about everyone and everything from asphalt paving crews to county fairs to corn plants are dealing with or preparing to deal with the heat.
Here's a look at who's doing what in terms of handling the heat:
Look out for a 'hot weather alert'
Something known as the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), an organization that oversees the flow of electricity across Wisconsin as well as 14 other states and the Canadian province of Manitoba, has declared a "hot weather alert" beginning Thursday.
“A hot weather alert provides situational awareness for MISO members that extreme hot or humid weather conditions may cause higher-than-normal energy demands and works to ensure all necessary resources are available,” a spokeswoman for the organization said in an email.
That means, among other things, any routine maintenance planned for the region's electricity grid will be postponed until the heat wave passes.
The organization anticipates being able to meet electricity demand as the temperature rises. The group says it expects summer demand to peak at 125 gigawatts, with 149 gigawatts of available capacity.
At this time, MISO does not anticipate that it will need to ask electricity customers to cut back on their use of power as the temperature rises.
In eastern Wisconsin, We Energies says that extreme weather — hot and cold — tends to stress its equipment. But the utility has been working to upgrade equipment throughout its system, said Brendan Conway, a company spokesman.
"We expect to meet customer demand for electricity during this stretch of hot weather," Conway said via email.
Thank Lake Michigan and Hurricane Barry
A lake breeze will help keep things only slightly cooler along Lake Michigan on Tuesday, said Marcia Kronce, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Sullivan.
Meanwhile, far southeast Wisconsin could see clouds from the northern fringes of Hurricane Barry. That was expected to help to hold temperatures down a bit on Tuesday. But it's still going the be warm and muggy.
After that, get ready to sweat.
"Heat index values could rise above 100 degrees on Thursday, Friday and Saturday," across southern and south central Wisconsin, according to a statement Tuesday from the weather service.
The heat index essentially measures what it feels like when heat is combined with humidity.
The high temperature on Friday in Milwaukee is forecast to be 95 degrees. In Green Bay, it is forecast to hit 92, Appleton 94 and Wausau 90.
The normal high temperature in Milwaukee in July is 80 degrees, according to weather service data.
Heat could bring severe storms
All that heat and humidity are essential ingredients for thunderstorms. We could see a few this week and they could get loud.
"There are mainly slight chances for thunderstorms Wednesday," according to the weather service. "There are better chances for thunderstorms Wednesday night and Thursday morning. A few strong to severe storms are possible Wednesday night."
The weather service has put volunteer storm spotters on notice that they may be needed Wednesday night.
Elsewhere in the state, "isolated severe storms are possible on Wednesday night over central and north-central Wisconsin, and across much of the (same) area on Thursday," according to the weather service office in Green Bay.
Any relief from rain and storms will only be temporary. "The hot, hot days are Thursday and Friday," Kronce said.
An excessive heat watch is already in effect Thursday afternoon through Saturday evening for Grant, Richland and Crawford counties in far southwest Wisconsin. That includes the cities of Prairie du Chien, Richland Center and Platteville.
More counties could find themselves being placed under watches and advisories as the week progresses, according to weather service.
"The bottom line, it's going to be hot," Kronce said. "It's going to stay hot and humid all week. The humidity doesn't really break until Sunday or Monday."
For paving crews, 'it's brutal'
John Poblocki has been in the paving business for decades. On Monday, his car was filled with a half-dozen 24-packs of Gatorade for his crews.
When he was on a crew many years ago, he was overcome by heat. "I passed out," he said.
Poblocki's crews will go through 180 to 200 bags of ice a day during hot stretches
When asphalt is applied, it's about 290 degrees. That only adds to the heat, especially on a massive parking lot where there is no shade and nowhere to hide.
If crews get so hot that they are risking their health, they stop working for the day, Poblocki said.
"There's no sugar-coating this," Poblocki said. "It's brutal."
BYOW (Bring Your Own Water)
The Waukesha County Fair has lifted its carry-in ban on water bottles for the entire fair, which begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday, "due to the high temperatures, humidity and heat indices expected this week," according to a statement.
Folks who plan to attend the fair can bring in a sealed water bottle or a clear, empty water bottle — one per person — to fill on the grounds. Water fountains are located in the Arena Building on the south end of the grounds and in and around the Forum Marketplace in the middle of the grounds.
Even corn gets thirsty in this weather
Corn plants love warm weather — up to a point.
The tipping point seems to be about 86 degrees.
"Anything hotter than that can be detrimental," said George Koepp, the Columbia County Extension agriculture educator. Once it gets above about 86 degrees, the corn plants have to draw moisture out of the soil to cool themselves, Koepp said. "We just hope that the corn roots are deep enough to get water," he said.
When corn plants are too hot and lack water, their leaves begin to curl. Corn growers across the region will be watching for that possibility.
Overall, this week, "the heat has us a little concerned," Koepp said. "We're not too nervous yet."
It could be worse
The high temperature in Phoenix on Tuesday is forecast to hit 115 degrees, according to the weather service office there.
"Stay indoors and seek air-conditioned buildings," the weather service office in Phoenix said in a statement.