US heatwave: Parts of the US are baking in triple-digit temperatures with no letup in sight
A dangerous heat wave that has blighted the south-central United States spread across the country on Wednesday, with an estimated 110 million people under heat alerts in more than two dozen states from California to New England – and many areas recording high temperatures in the 90s or triple digits.
This has led public officials to warn: get to a cool place and check on each other.
The most intense heat remained over the southwest and south-central United States, with highs exceeding 100 degrees in some areas, including Texas, where sweltering conditions spurred record levels of oil consumption. energy.
Lawton, Oklahoma, broke a record for Wednesday’s date with thermometers reading 111 degrees. Another high daily record was set in Abilene, Texas, which saw 110 degrees. Other parts of the state, including Austin, Del Rio and San Antonio, also broke daily records with temperatures exceeding 100.
But parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast — including New York, Philadelphia and Boston — were also under heat alert Wednesday and are expected to remain warm at least through the weekend.
In New York, residents have been urged to stay indoors for the next few days to avoid “hazardous conditions that can lead to heat stress and illness,” said Jackie Bray, commissioner of the Homeland Security and Human Resources Division. state emergency services. Most places in the state are in the upper mid-90s, according to the National Weather Service.
In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat-related emergency through Thursday and announced that at least 12 community centers will be open for anyone who wants to cool off. More than 50 wading pools will be available in city parks and playgrounds, she said.
Philadelphia declared a noon “heat warning” Tuesday through Thursday evening, urging people to avoid being outdoors from noon to 5 p.m. and to use air conditioners or fans, the city said in an email to CNN.
The city’s public health department declared its first heat-related health emergency of 2022 on Wednesday due to “extremely hot conditions.” The declaration will activate emergency programs, including special field teams that will conduct home visits and outreach activities for people experiencing homelessness, the city said in a news release.
A heat-related health emergency is declared when “the temperature becomes high enough that vulnerable people — especially our elderly neighbors and family members — are at increased risk of getting sick or dying from the heat,” a said Health Commissioner Dr Cheryl Bettigole.
And it’s not just in the United States: the climate crisis has pushed weather conditions to extremes all over the world, with a scorching heat wave that has also swept through Europe this week.
How to stay cool without air conditioning
For much of the south-central United States, Wednesday’s heat only added to the brutal temperatures the region had seen in recent days. On Tuesday in Texas and Oklahoma, a number of record high temperatures were recorded that day.
In fact, Tuesday was the hottest day of the year in Oklahoma and western North Texas, with record high temperatures recorded in Oklahoma City and Wichita Falls, according to the National Weather Service.
As of Tuesday, the Austin area had hit 100 degrees for 38 of the past 44 days, according to the Weather Service.
“We’re asking people to save energy so the systems keep running,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Wednesday. “We’re asking everyone to do this so we can get through this together.”
Heat makes air conditioners work. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates about 90% of the Texas electric grid, set a single-day record for electricity demand on Tuesday, and another record was expected on Wednesday, a spokesperson said. ‘ERCOT.
In Oklahoma, where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Across much of the state on Tuesday, extreme heat and drought led to wildfires and rural water supply system outages, Department of Health spokesperson Keli Cain told CNN. Oklahoma Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The heat is helping to cause water main breaks in some Oklahoma communities, forcing those communities to advise residents to boil their water. Because Oklahoma’s predominant soil type is clay, extreme temperatures constrict the soil, causing soil to shift and rupture pipes, according to the Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Division. of State.
In Arkansas, the town of Mountain Home reached 107 degrees Wednesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. “This would break the old record of 102 degrees for this date set in 2012. Official record reports aren’t sent out until midnight, but it certainly looks like a new record,” the service wrote Wednesday night.
As longer periods of excessive heat have become more common, some local governments have hired heat officers to help navigate the response.
Jane Gilbert, Miami-Dade County’s heat director, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday that Miami now has nearly double the number of days with a heat index — what it looks like. feels like – more than 90 degrees than in the 1970s.
“And we’re getting many, many more days with the heat index, the most extreme levels of 103, 105,” Gilbert said. “It’s not just about people’s health, it’s also about their wallets. Our outside workers can’t work that long, they waste working time. People can’t afford this alternating current, electricity cost is higher. It is both a health crisis and an economic crisis.
“Older people, young children, people with certain health conditions may be more vulnerable to heat. It’s really important to monitor these people and make sure they have the ability to take care of themselves,” Gilbert said.
David Hondula, director of the Office of Heat Response and Mitigation for Phoenix, echoed that sentiment saying, “Heat can affect anyone, we are all at risk.
Heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States, according to Kimberly McMahon, program manager for the National Weather Service’s public weather services.
“Heat affects everyone by limiting the body’s ability to cool itself,” McMahon said. And high humidity only further limits this ability.
“Sweating removes 22% of excess body heat by redirecting heat to sweat evaporation,” said CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford. “High humidity means there is more moisture in the air. Since there is so much more moisture in the air, sweat evaporates more slowly, slowing down your body’s natural ability to cool itself. This is why heat indices from a day with high humidity can feel significantly warmer than the actual air temperature.
Too much heat and humidity can lead to heat-related illnesses including heat cramps, rash, heat exhaustion “and – worst of all – heat stroke which can lead to death”, McMahon said.