Extreme heat across the US is being driven by a massive heat dome — which experts likened to a “lid” on a boiling pot.

Heat domes occur when the atmosphere traps hot air that becomes “stuck in a bubble” and acts like a lid or a cap because there’s no mechanism to force it elsewhere, Fox Weather meteorologist Marissa Lautenbacher told The Post.

The high-pressure dome suppresses the air, which also continues to warm as it sinks, Lautenbacher said.

“It works kind of like a convection oven,” she said.

Heat domes typically occur a few times per year, Lautenbacher said. They’re usually triggered by a strong change in ocean temperatures from west to east in the Pacific Ocean during the preceding winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Fox Weather forecasters expect the heat dome to stay in place from Missouri to Texas and as far as east as Florida until the weekend – when temps are expected to subside.

The heat dome is supposed to break by early next week.
The heat dome is supposed to break by early next week.
Fox Weather

Heat alerts were active in eight states Tuesday, including Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin — with more expected as the week continues.

The extreme conditions are expected to move south Wednesday to metro areas like Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, as well as parts of Tennessee and into Florida and Texas, where triple-digit temps are predicted on Thursday, forecasters said.

The stubborn heat dome is expected to break by early next week, Lautenberg said.

“But these patterns can stay for days or even weeks,” she said.

NOAA officials said heat domes occur when the atmosphere traps “hot ocean air” much like a “lid” on a pot.

Heat domes typically occur a few times a year.
Heat domes typically occur a few times a year.
Getty Images

“Imagine a swimming pool when the heater is turned on – temperatures rise quickly in the areas surrounding the heater jets, while the rest of the pool takes longer to warm up,” the agency’s website reads.

Temperatures in the western Pacific have risen over the past few decades compared to its eastern portion, creating pressure difference that drive wind across the ocean during winter.

“In a process known as convection, the gradient causes more warm air, heated by the ocean surface, to rise over the western Pacific, and decreases convection over the central and eastern Pacific,” according to NOAA officials.

As the winds take that hot air eastward, northern shifts in the jet stream then trap the air and move it toward land, resulting in extended heat waves.

About 70% of US residents will see temperatures in the 90s this week — with nearly 20% expected to endure triple-digit temps, CNN reported.

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