The extended period of scorching hot weather gripping Minnesota is creating far more serious problems than discomfort: It's imperiling health, buckling roads and increasing the risks of wildfires and drought.
The Twin Cities metro area set a record for the earliest stretch of 90-degree days with nine consecutive days June 3 to 11, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). And extended forecasts all the way into the first few days of July show metro-area temperatures staying above normal.
"We haven't had a major system that shakes up the air mass enough to the point where we get rid of the heat," said Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist at the NWS regional office in Chanhassen.
The coming week may be a bit cooler, but it's likely to have some days with highs in the upper 80s, Hasenstein said. "It doesn't look like we're going to break this pattern anytime soon," he said.
Such heat, usually not seen until July or August, creates serious health risks.
"The main thing is, if you don't drink enough fluids and you're out in the sun for a long time, heat exhaustion and heat stroke can happen very quickly," Hasenstein said.
The landscape, too, is suffering.
Much of the state is experiencing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Counties along Minnesota's southwestern border are mired in severe drought.
Wildfires are another threat in the fierce heat. Central Minnesota is reporting conditions that allow fires to start easily, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The southwestern, far northwestern and northeastern parts of the state are reporting they face moderate fire danger levels.
Then there are the roads. On Friday, the Minnesota Department of Transportation alerted motorists that the extreme heat was causing portions of pavement across the state to buckle.
The agency urges drivers and riders to report any buckles by calling 911.
Some municipalities, such as Carver, have enacted emergency outdoor watering measures, banning watering lawns, washing vehicles and the filling of pools. The city of Minnetrista also enacted a watering ban last week.
On Tuesday, St. Paul Public Schools ended school year early due to the heat, causing some disarray and disappointment among students and teachers celebrating the last week of the difficult pandemic year.
The heat has left air conditioner repair companies flooded with work.
"We're going nuts," said Bill Webster of Webster Services.
The small west metro business, which consists of Webster, his son and one employee, has been flooded with repair requests. All three have been going to calls from 8 a.m. until well after dark.
This year, demand seems higher, he said.
"This has been worse because it's so hot and a lot of people are working from home and don't have another option," he said.
CenterPoint Energy employees who work under the company's Home Service Plus plan, which provides repair services for appliances, including air conditioning, have been working extra hours in the evening and weekends, according to Ross Corson, spokesman for CenterPoint.
He has some advice for the sweltering: Next time, don't wait until we're in the grip of a heat wave to get that clanking air conditioner fixed.
Staff writer Maya Miller contributed to this report. Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759