Temps to reach near-record high today

BY HAYLEY BRUCE | MAY 10, 2011 7:20 AM

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As the hot Sun beat down on the Pentacrest on Monday afternoon, University of Iowa students shed umbrellas and jackets to lounge on the grass for hours of studying for finals.

But while temperatures broke 80 degrees this early in May, they might reach record-breaking highs today.

However, not even the weather, some said, could be a distraction during the finals week.

Sitting on a blanket outside Jessup Hall, UI freshman Jordan Slack sat hunched over, reading over her notes through a pair of silver aviators.

"I don't think the weather has made it harder to focus," the journalism and mass-communication major said. "I think it's just motivated me to get outside more."

And experts say the warmer weather is expected to persist.

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Tim Gross, a meteorologist at the National Weather Center in Davenport, said Iowa City residents should expect today's weather to be dry and hot, with temperatures reaching a high of 91 degrees — nearly a record for this time of year.

"It will definitely be a shocker because the heat indexes will be in the middle to upper 90s in some locations," he said. "So it's definitely going to feel different."

Gross said the 90-degree weather will last through Wednesday, and temperatures should return to the high 70s Thursday and high 60s Friday. The chances of showers and thunderstorms will be 50 percent Wednesday and Thursday, but Gross noted that warm temperatures can also lead to severe weather.

Nonetheless, an occasional scorcher isn't abnormal in Iowa.

"It's not unusual, especially when you have the right setup," Gross said. "When we have strong southerly winds bringing up warm air, we can get this temperature if the clouds clear out and the Sun comes out."

The last 90-degree day in Iowa City occurred in August 2010. That year, there was also a 90-degree day in May.

UI freshman Jamie Gluskin said she was happy the weather had warmed up but noted that many UI buildings are too warm to study in.

"It's way too hot to study in the library," she said. "Anywhere inside is so hot, and it's so nice to be out here. It's getting me really excited for summer, and it's helping me get through my finals."

Computer-science major Chase Reed said he's glad the long Iowa winter has finally come to an end, and this weather reminds him of his California home. Ultimately, he said, he thinks it's easier to work outside than in a dark, drab dorm room.

"It makes it a little bit harder if I have to sit in my room and do something on my computer," the UI freshman said, basking in the shade of a tree outside Schaeffer Hall reading his Kindle. "But if I'm able to walk around or go outside to write something, it makes it easier."

Meanwhile, other students said the sunny skies have helped them blow off a little nonacademic steam in between tests.

"It's a little difficult, because we have finals coming up, but I'd say I've managed to be out and play some Frisbee or even take my books outside, and ride my bike," said first-year mathematics graduate student Juan Murillo, drenched in sweat after a game of Frisbee outside Macbride Hall.

"I'm really excited I get to be outside more, and I'm looking forward to the summer."

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