Intense heat dome descends as one in three Americans under alerts

Major cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Dallas and Las Vegas face extreme heat this week

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Thursday 21 July 2022 22:57 BST
Summer heat wave continues
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One in three Americans are currently under an advisory or warning as extreme heat brings another punishing week of soaring temperatures across the country.

The dangerous conditions are impacting across the South and Northeast. Large parts of Texas and Oklahoma have seen consecutive days of temperatures well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius). On Wednesday afternoon, heat and humidity will combine to make parts of Arkansas feel up to 115F (46C).

A heat advisory is in place across the densely-populated northeast, stretching from Boston to Washington, DC with temperatures set to stretch above 90F (32C) every day this week.

According to AccuWeather, this will be New York City’s longest stretch of daily highs in the 90s in almost 10 years. The city has opened up its cooling centres to help people stay out of oppressive heat as a heat advisory has been extended through Sunday.

In Boston, a heat emergency has been declared through Thursday, with cooling centers open as well.

In parts of the south and northeast, heat and humidity will combine to form potentially dangerous conditions. Residents are being encouraged to stay hydrated, check up on vulnerable people and seek out air-conditioning.

One hospital in New Jersey was forced to evacuate the emergency room after the air conditioning on Wednesday, NBC 4 New York reported.

Much of the heat is being caused by a so-called “heat dome”, reports The Washington Post, where high pressure keeps heat trapped in a location.

This is a continuation of days of extreme heat in parts of the country, especially in Texas and Oklahoma. As the mercury shot up over the past week, Texas has erupted with wildfires, with over 70 blazes currently burning across the state.

On Tuesday, the Texas A&M Forest Service reported 24 new fires had burned over 7,700 acres. The Texas power grid recorded another high daily power usage on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

These kinds of extreme temperatures will become more common as the climate crisis worsens.

As the global average temperature climbs towards 2C of warming (since pre-industrial times) heatwaves that once occurred every 10 years will happen about every other year, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a leading climate science authority.

And even more-normal summers will likely get hotter. According to the Climate Shift Index, a measure of how much the climate crisis is affecting today’s weather, planetary warming has made some high and low temperatures across the south and northeast today up to five times more likely.

Elsewhere in the world, extreme heat has walloped parts of Europe, with all-time records breaking in the UK and wildfires raging across the UK, Spain, Portugal and France.

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