Intense Heat Wave Expected to Persist in Southern States
The National Weather Service (NWS) predicts that the ongoing intense heat wave affecting several states in the south of the country will continue throughout the next week. The NWS estimates that there will be “excessive heat” until at least next Tuesday.
Millions of People Affected
The heat wave is expected to impact approximately 42.4 million people in Texas, Louisiana, the Mississippi Valley, Arkansas, parts of Tennessee, Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida, according to the NWS.
Storms Unlikely to Provide Relief
Although storms are expected in the region, they will not be sufficient to alleviate the high temperatures, which the NWS describes as “dangerous.”
Hotter Temperatures in Southern Texas and Coastal Regions
The NWS anticipates higher temperatures in southern Texas and the eastern and central coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures in these areas are expected to reach around 100°F, potentially surpassing previous records. Additionally, the combination of high temperatures and humidity will make the heat index feel even hotter.
Humidity Plays a Major Role
“What is really affecting is the humidity,” explained Allison Prater, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, Texas. The humidity is causing the heat index, or wind chill, to skyrocket.
Heat Advisory in Florida
The NWS has issued a heat advisory for the Keys area in Florida. The combination of high temperatures and oppressive humidity could result in wind chills of 108 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit in Key Largo, Marathon, and Key West. The weather service warns that these conditions pose an increased risk to individuals without access to air conditioning.
Fire Risk in Arizona and New Mexico
The NWS has also identified a “critical risk” of fires in southern Arizona and much of New Mexico due to hot and dry weather conditions. On Sunday, Phoenix recorded its hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching 110°F. Strong winds, expected to reach up to 50 miles per hour on Monday, could further exacerbate the fire risk.
Heat Wave Increases Risks of Wind Currents and Tornadoes
The high temperatures have created a contrast with cold winds, resulting in strong winds and even tornadoes, particularly in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and the Florida panhandle. The Storm Prediction Center warns of fast-moving winds and precipitation, including the potential for both supercells and linear/arc structures, which typically generate strong currents. A suspected tornado caused damage in an area near Scranton, Arkansas, but no serious injuries were reported.
Risks of High Temperatures
Heat-related deaths are the leading cause of natural fatalities in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 600 people die each year due to high temperatures. Symptoms of heat illness include headache, dizziness, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting, and spasms. Infants, young children, the elderly, and outdoor workers are particularly vulnerable. To mitigate risks, specialists recommend avoiding prolonged sun exposure, staying hydrated even before feeling thirsty, consuming well-cooked food, wearing light and loose clothing, and never leaving children or pets inside cars as heat stroke can be fatal.