All of Arkansas has been blanketed in an Excessive Heat Warning for days but there's an end in sight, maybe.
The current forecast calls for a break on Sunday and the temperatures steadily declining. Of course, when the highs are the forecast 107 for Friday, even the low 90s in a few days, seem like a relief.
Still, though, the ongoing heat has had an impact.
The city of North Little Rock opened up a cooling center that will remain open through Saturday.
School districts across the state are also pushing back high school football kickoffs as the regular season opens Friday.
The home games at Maumelle and North Little Rock have both been pushed back to 8 p.m., as has the Central Arkansas Christian game at Lonoke.
Bobby Swofford, the Assistant Executive Director at the Arkansas Activities Association said delaying start times was up to the individual districts as the AAA's policy was to leave delays for heat-related reasons up to the schools.
That's not the case for practices where coaches use Wet Bulb Globe Temperatures, or WBGT, as guidelines.
WBGT UNDER 82.0: Normal activities. Provide separate rest breaks each hour of practice. Breaks should equal 10 minutes per hour.
WBGT 82.0 - 86.9: Use discretion for intense or prolonged exercise; watch at-risk players carefully; Provide at least three separate rest breaks each hour for a minimum of 4 minutes in duration for each.
WBGT 87.0 - 89.9: Maximum length of participation within this range is 2 hours.; Football: players restricted to helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts during practice, protective equipment must be removed for conditioning activities.; All Sports: there must be 20 minutes of rest breaks distributed throughout the hour of participation.
WBGT 90.0 - 92.0: Maximum length of participation with this range is 1 hour.; Football: no protective equipment may be worn. no conditioning activities.; All Sports: there must be 30 minutes of rest breaks distributed throughout the hour of participation.
WBGT OVER 92: No outdoor workouts. Delay practice until a cooler WBGT level is reached.
The difference between the WBGT and the heat index has to do with the humidity, said a forecaster with the National Weather Service in North Little Rock.
"The wet bulb temperature is a heavily weighted component ... and is an indication of how much humidity is present," they said on the NWS site. "[It] means there is a lot of humidity (and a very uncomfortable situation), and it does not have to be hot to make this happen."
indeed, at 9 a.m. this morning, the WBGT in Little Rock was 85, and the heat index was 100. But the numbers aren't a perfect comparison, because they take other local conditions into account. So while the WBGT in West Memphis was also 85, the heat index there was 95.
The NWS office also developed an experimental forecasting tool to predict the WBGT across the state and it isn't hard to see why football is getting a later start.
All of Arkansas is between 82 and 87 WBGT, with most of Pulaski County at 86 or in the high range. For football practice, it would mean helmet, shoulder pads, and shorts during practice.
The coaches are also adjusting to the heat, along with the players.
"The Heat is a scary opponent right now," said North Little Rock coach Clint Reed. "It is the first 'team' we have to line up against. It has changed the way we do things for sure."
Maumelle coach Brian Maupin said he delegated monitoring the heat.
"We have a phenomenal [Physical Therapist] Dylan Thompson," Maupin said. "He makes sure we're taking amazing care of our players, and monitors the wet bulb carefully for us."
Maupin said the weather was just another thing to overcome, but "we´re used to a challenge and excited to rise above adversity."
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