Over 100 million Americans are living under excessive heat warnings and advisories as forecasters warn of "dangerously hot conditions". Taking humidity into account, the mercury could hit 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. An excessive heat warning was issued for large swaths of Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey. The extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities.
In New York, two deaths have already been brought on by heat. According to the city's chief medical examiner, hypertensive cardiovascular disease and pulmonary emphysema were cited as contributory diseases. More people die from heat each year in the US than from any other weather-related cause. The Middle Mississippi Valley, where a sizable stretch of heat advisories and a few excessive heat warnings are in effect, is also expected to experience oppressive heat, according to the NWS. Tulsa, Oklahoma, might see temperatures reach 110 degrees, and Las Vegas, as well as several Texas towns, could see temperatures in the hundreds.
What is meant by a "heat wave"?
A heat wave is defined as an extended period of abnormally high temperatures in a region.
Numerous deaths from hyperthermia; catastrophic crop failures; heightened wildfire danger in drought-stricken areas; and extensive power outages have all been brought on by extreme heat waves. Typically, forecasting tools can identify heat waves so that a warning may be sent out. Since the 1950s, heatwaves have increased in frequency and intensity practically everywhere owing to climate change.
Reasons for this heat wave:
Some of the most prominent reasons for heatwaves are:
1. Arctic warning and jet stream migration
The Arctic is warming much faster than it should. This, in turn, has an impact on the migration of the North Atlantic jet stream. This is resulting in extreme weather situations such as floods and heat waves.
2. Heat Domes
A heat dome occurs when the atmosphere absorbs the hot ocean air like a cap or lid. A significant shift in water temperatures from west to east in the tropical Pacific Ocean over the previous winter, according to scientists, is the primary source of heat domes.
3. El Nino and La Nina
Climate variations known as El Nino and, less commonly, La Nina, occur every few years. On the western coast of North America, El Nino brings warm water from the equatorial Pacific Ocean, whereas La Nina delivers cooler water.
La Nina is in action at the moment. Climate experts are worried about what a severe heat wave might look like during the next El Nino, when even hotter summer weather could be anticipated because summer temperatures tend to be lower during La Nina.
4. Human-influenced climate change
Man-made causes are the primary reason for any climate change that is occurring today. The burning of fossil fuels, CFCs, smoke coming from the ever-increasing number of vehicles, and deforestation are some of the ways people are changing the climate and wind patterns. This is leading to the most underestimated type of potential disaster, which is heat waves.
Boston and Philadelphia broke the daily heat record.
According to the reports, Boston had a daily high temperature of 99°F recently, topping the previous record of 98°F, established in 1933. Philadelphia reached 99°F, breaking its previous record of 98°F. Providence, Rhode Island, also shattered its day record, breaking it by two degrees with a high of 96°F.
What is the condition in Europe?
More than 70,000 deaths across Europe in 2003 were attributed to a heat wave. Thousands more people perished in subsequent heat waves in 2006, 2010, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Europe has warmed by over double the world average of 1.1 degrees Celsius and is currently 1.94 to 1.99 degrees Celsius higher than the preindustrial normal. The temperature has also soared in Europe, setting an all-time new record.
Temperatures in the United Kingdom have surpassed 40°C for the first time.
Relief on the horizon for the northeast:
A cold front that is arriving on the northeast side should bring some less oppressive temperatures, according to the National Weather Service, but there is also the possibility of severe weather in the form of thunderstorms and high winds.
Tips to beat the heat wave
- It is important to limit any kind of outdoor activity during the hottest parts of the day.
- Staying hydrated is also key to staying safe in heat waves. According to the Red Cross, on average, a person should drink approximately ¾ of a gallon of liquid per day.
- Eating foods that have high water content, such as fruits and vegetables, can also keep one hydrated.
The Red Cross also advises keeping the home cool by
- Covering windows with drapes or shades
- Installing air conditioners and insulation around them.
- Use window reflectors to send heat back outside.
Why have there been so many heat waves recently?
Scientists say that climate change is making it more frequent. This climate change is human-influenced. It is commonly believed that the extraordinary intensity and length of the heat wave were made worse by climate change in both Canada and the United States. This is due to a combination of events, like the recent drought and/or changes in the jet stream, that caused the heat wave and that even a relatively small increase in mean global temperatures results in a sharp increase in heat waves.
The 1936 North American heat wave
One of the worst heat waves in North America’s history was the one that occurred amid the Dust Bowl and Great Depression in the 1930s, causing terrible human misery as well as tremendous economic cost. Over 5,000 people died. The heat and lack of rain ruined vast quantities of crops. As of 2022, 13 state records for the highest temperatures were set in 1936, and several more continue to this day.
This is not the first time America has faced a heat wave situation. Every year, the impact of a heat wave grows, and this time it has exceeded the forecast. It is possible a more severe heat wave may occur in the coming years. Climate change and heat waves must be addressed as soon as possible. The government should adequately notify the public about the magnitude of the situation and begin taking actions to address it. Furthermore, the rest of the globe should pay attention to the global climate change event and work together to limit its consequences.