It is currently 93 degrees in my neck of the woods, and we are being warned that with the heat index, daily temperatures could warm up to 110 degrees. We are under an “excessive heat warning” through Saturday evening.
If you live in the Central or Eastern US, chances are you are also under a dangerous heat wave warning.
AccuWeather estimates that more than 87 million Americans live in an area where a daily record-high temperature could be set on Saturday, and says more than 200 million in the eastern two-thirds of the nation will swelter in very hot and humid conditions into this weekend.
Here’s what you need to know about this heat wave.
As of the time of this writing, the National Weather Service’s latest update (which is valid through Sunday, July 21) stated the following:
…A dangerous heat wave is building in the central and eastern U.S…. …Severe weather and flash flooding are both possible for the Upper Midwest this evening… An upper-level ridge is building over the southeastern U.S., setting the stage for what will be a miserably hot and humid weekend for millions of Americans.
The sprawling area of high pressure will drive hot and humid air north and east from the Gulf through the Northeast. Daytime temperatures will soar into and through the 90s from the Plains eastward, and overnight minimums in the 70s and 80s will provide little relief. Heat Advisories, Excessive Heat Watches, and Excessive Heat Warnings are in effect for the Plains, Mississippi and Ohio Valleys, and the Eastern Seaboard.
Dozens of record high minimum temperatures are forecast to be set across the eastern U.S., and a handful of record high maximum temperatures will be challenged. The heatwave is expected to persist through the weekend across the east, but a cold front ushering in cooler air will march across the U.S. as an upper-level trough begins to build near Hudson Bay.
Scattered thunderstorms are expected along fronts moving through the north-central U.S., a few of which could be severe and produce heavy rainfall. Slight Risks of both severe weather and excessive rainfall are in place this evening for parts of the Great Lakes region, with more storms possible across the Upper Midwest tomorrow. (source)
Heavy rain is expected this weekend as well.
While thunderstorms can provide some relief from the sweltering heat and can prevent temperatures from rising, they also can bring flooding…which could be disastrous for some parts of the US. The possibility of additional flooding in the Midwest is troubling, considering the region has already been getting hit with massive, damaging floods since March. Heavy flooding has impacted important agricultural states, including Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri, and more rain could be devasting for the region – and our food supply.
Unfortunately, those in impacted areas should not expect to get much relief at night. When nighttime temperatures remain above 80 degrees, heat can build at a faster pace the next day. This can cause nighttime humidity levels to be significantly higher than those in the afternoon.
Heat kills more people on an annual basis than any other weather-related factor.
When it is hot outside, perspiration fails to evaporate quickly and body temperature can climb significantly. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can result.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:
- Heavy sweating
- Cool, pale, clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Possible muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
First Aid for heat exhaustion includes:
- Move person to a cooler environment
- Lay the person down and loosen clothing
- Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible
- Fan or move victim to an air-conditioned room
- Offer sips of water
- If the person vomits more than once, seek immediate medical attention
Symptoms of heat stroke include the following:
- Altered mental state
- One or more of the following symptoms: throbbing headache, confusion, nausea, dizziness, shallow breathing
- Body temperature above 103°F
- Hot, red, dry, or moist skin
- Rapid and strong pulse
- Faints, loses consciousness
If you suspect heat stroke, call 911 or get the person to a hospital immediately, as delaying treatment can be fatal. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency.
- Move the victim to a cooler, preferably air-conditioned, environment.
- Reduce body temperature with cool cloths or bath.
- Use a fan if heat index temperatures are below the high 90s. A fan can make you hotter at higher temperatures.
- Do NOT give fluids.
Here’s how to stay safe in extremely hot weather.
Until temperatures cool down a bit, strenuous physical exercise and manual labor should be avoided or limited if possible. At least try to avoid them during the hottest part of the day. Frequent breaks from the heat are also highly recommended.
Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, especially while outdoors or in places that do not have air conditioning. Seek shelter in cool places.
Check on young children and the elderly frequently, as they are at heightened risk of heat-related illness.
Avoid walking pets and barefoot on paved and concrete areas during the late morning and afternoon hours as these surfaces can become hot enough to cause severe burns to paws and feet.
Do not leave children, elderly or disabled people, or pets in cars – even for a few minutes (and even if the windows are open). According to the National Weather Service,
Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia, which occurs when the body absorbs more heat than it can handle. Hyperthermia can occur even on a mild day with temperatures in the 70s. Studies have shown that the temperature inside a parked vehicle can rapidly rise to a dangerous level for children, pets and even adults. Leaving the windows slightly open does not significantly decrease the heating rate. The younger the child the more severe the effects because their bodies have not developed the ability to efficiently regulate its internal temperature. (source)
When it is 90 degrees outside, a car’s interior can heat to 109 degrees within 10 minutes – and can reach 124 degrees within 30 minutes, according to the National Weather Service.
The power grid can go down during heat waves.
As Daisy Luther explained in Power Grid Could Buckle During Extreme Heat Wave: Here’s How to Keep Cool, the risk of demand outstripping supply is very real during heat waves.
It seems like we’re seeing more and more power outages this summer for “no reason.”
Daisy’s book Be Ready for Anything gives you a more thorough overview of surviving a summer power outage. As far as long-term power outages are concerned, her recommendations are decidedly low-tech. The Blackout Book, which you can get immediately in PDF format, also contains tips on how to survive a hot weather power outage.
If your power goes out, or you do not have air conditioning, here are two additional resources that can help you find ways to stay cool:
How do you keep your cool?
Do you live in an area that is experiencing a heat wave? What are some techniques that you use to keep cool in hot weather? Please share your thoughts in the comments. Stay cool!
About the Author
Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.