Sweltering temperatures lingered on Sunday in a large swath of the central US, causing misery from the Gulf of Mexico almost to the Great Lakes. Record high temperatures were recorded in Texas and other states. People were told to chug extra water while mowing lawns or exercising outdoors, and to check on neighbors to ensure air conditioning is available. “These high temperatures can impact our friends, families, and neighbors who may live alone, especially if they limit their use of air conditioning,” Sarah Russell, commissioner for the St Louis emergency management agency, said in a statement. “We urge everyone to stop and visit loved ones to ensure they are healthy and well during this extreme heat.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth area was expected to reach 110F (43.3C) on Sunday after hitting 108F (42.2C) on Saturday, said Sarah Barnes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The record high for those dates was 107F (41.7C), set in 2011. Barnes said the area is not cooling off enough at night. “That’s really going to contribute to an increased risk of heat-related illnesses,” Barnes said on Sunday. “That’s the main concern when it comes to people and the heat.” The heatwave causing misery this weekend is just the latest to punish the US this year. Scientists have long warned that the climate crisis, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and certain agricultural practices, will lead to more and prolonged bouts of extreme weather including hotter temperatures. The entire globe has simmered to record heat in both June and July. And if that’s not enough, smoke from wildfires, floods and droughts have caused problems globally.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning on Sunday for parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. Heat advisories or watches were also in place in parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota. Houston was expected on Sunday to add to its ongoing streak of high temperatures at or above 100F (38C). Through Saturday, the high temperature in Houston has been at least 100F for 21 days. The high on Sunday was expected to be about 106F (41C). The temperature reached a record high for the date of 104F (40C) on Saturday in Jackson, Mississippi, as people walked between indoor and outdoor events at the Mississippi book festival. Volunteers distributed chilled water and people used handheld fans while chatting with authors and shopping for books at large tents outside the state capitol building.
The stifling heat in Texas overwhelmed people taking part in orientation for new students at Prairie View A&M University, 48 miles (77km) north-west of Houston. University officials said they were reviewing operations after 38 students were hospitalized on Friday night after suffering heat-related illnesses, including dehydration. One student was taken by helicopter to a hospital in nearby College Station, while 37 were taken in ambulances to other facilities, the Waller county EMS chief, Rhonda Getschman, told KBTX. “It’s very easy to overheat quickly in this Texas heat. We highly encourage everyone to stay indoors as much as possible,” Getschman said. Much of Iowa is expected to see high temperatures in the upper 90s on Sunday and Monday, followed by three days during which the reading will probably top 100F (37.8C).
The heat was worrisome on Sunday as thousands were expected for the final day of the Iowa state fair in Des Moines. In a Facebook post, fair officials urged patrons to visit air-conditioned buildings, take regular breaks and stay hydrated. Forecasters expected high temperatures to reach 99F (37.2C) to 103F (39.4C) through Friday in St Louis, and the heat’s only part of the problem: excessive humidity will lead to a heat index of up to 115F (46.1C) each day. The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported that if the prediction holds, it will be the worst stretch of heat in St Louis since August 2014, when temperatures rose to about 95F (35C) for seven straight days.
Similar heat is expected all week in Little Rock, Arkansas, prompting the community to open several cooling centers for people who live on the streets or without air conditioning. Last month, the Phoenix area broiled under a record-setting 31 days of daily high temperatures of 110F (43.4C) or above. The historic heat began blasting the region in June, stretching from Texas across New Mexico and Arizona and into California’s desert. The previous record was 18 straight days in 1974. In July, the continental United States set a record for overnight warmth, providing little relief from daytime heat for people, animals, plants and the electric grid, meteorologists said.
Source: The Guardian