Tonight – maybe.


A 24-hour chance of rain and a modest lowering of temperatures could bring a brief respite from the area’s extremely dry and hot summer.

Tonight – maybe.


A 24-hour chance of rain and a modest lowering of temperatures could bring a brief respite from the area’s extremely dry and hot summer.


No promises, mind you, but this is how the National Weather Service sees things shaping up:


• One more brutal day of heat, with a high today of a 101 and a heat index of 104. It’ll be breezy, with gusts up to 23 mph out of the south-southwest. That would be three days in a row of 100 or higher and the sixth day in the last eight.


• At 7 p.m., the excessive heat warning that the area has been under for a week expires. For the daytime, however, take it easy, keep drinking plenty of water, check on friends and neighbors and avoid strenuous outdoor activity. Officials point out that this heat can be dangerous. Stay indoors – in an air-conditioned space – when you can. Make sure outdoor pets have shade and plenty of fresh water.


• Tonight brings a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. The Weather Service sees “no organized area of severe weather” but can’t rule out a strong storm here and there. Rainfall is expected to be between one-tenth and one-quarter of an inch – but maybe more in places that get a thunderstorm. It’ll get down to about 77 overnight.


• Same thing Thursday: 50 percent chance of rain, probably a quarter inch or less, with a high of 91 and a heat index of 96.


• Stop here if you insist on happy endings. The strong sun returns Friday with a high of 96, followed by 93 Saturday, 96 Sunday and – yes – 100 on Monday. And no rain.


Every quarter-inch shot of rain is welcome, but it would take a lot of them to close the area’s precipitaion deficit. Since April 1, just 5.5 inches of rain has fallen at Kansas City International Airport, one-third of the normal amount, and that has put Jackson County and much of the Midwest in what the Weather Service categorizes as extreme drought. Farmers are hurting, the state has declared an emergency, burn bans are up, and officials advise extreme caution about everything from grilling outdoors to flicking a cigarette into the shrubs (please just don’t, they say).


Officials also stress the benefit of getting into an air-conditioned space for at least a couple of hours a day when the area endures the day-after-day extreme heat that takes a toll on the body. Vesper Hall on Vesper Street in Blue Springs, the Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter on Truman Road in Independence, the Palmer Center just west of the Independence Square and the Sermon Center at Truman and Noland have all been open as cooling centers during this heat wave.


One more hopeful note: The skycast for today is green, the first in more than a week. That means ground-level ozone concentrations are low enough to not be a concern. When the skycast is yellow, orange or the very rare red, officials suggest steps such as driving less and putting off mowing.