From the ABC 7 Weather team

Watch the heat wave spread over the U.S., East Coast (VIDEO)

July 19, 2011 - 12:00 PM
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Watch the heat wave spread in a forehead-sweating weather animation based on this week's predicted high temperatures.

Heat! It's parboiling the pavement, turning the Potomac to bathwater and making the morning hot coffee so unbearable (but screw ordering iced... that's, like, 75 cents extra). But because heat is basically a bunch of agitated molecules bumping into each other, humankind can never see the visage of this summertime enemy causing so much torment. OR CAN WE?

Proving that nothing is too ephemeral to resist being turned into an animation, the folks at NOAA's Environmental Visualization Laboratory have just released a catchy model of the ferocious heat wave that is coasting over the United States at this very moment. See the below video, which shows the eastward movement of a strong, heat-generating "shroud" of high pressure. The model is based on high temperatures from July 13 to July 21 as predicted by the North American Model, one of the most widely used computer simulations for weather forecasting.

In D.C., the heat index is on track to knock against 100 degrees tomorrow. (Forecast.) But that's just an amuse-bouche for the steaming slab of hot weather that Ma Nature is about to serve up. The local National Weather Service office has put the District under an Excessive Heat Watch for Thursday afternoon, when the heat index is expected to float between 105 and 110 degrees. Actual temperatures after Thursday could hover around 100 until Saturday. And the Pittsburgh NWS office adds this dismal footnote

NOTE THE APPARENT TEMPERATURE ONLY ACCOUNTS FOR THE EFFECT OF TEMPERATURE AND DEW POINT, BUT DOES NOT ACCOUNT FOR THE EXTRA HEATING EFFECT OF DIRECT SUNSHINE, WHICH CAN ADD ANOTHER 15 DEGREES TO THE APPARENT TEMPERATURE.

The average high temperature for this time of year in D.C.? That would be 89 degrees.

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