By Katabella Roberts
More than 100 million Americans are under heatwave alerts across the south and southwest as experts warn temperatures in some areas are set to soar further in the coming days, possibly reaching triple digits.
In a July 12 bulletin, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued excessive heat advisories and warnings for areas of the United States stretching all the way from Florida to California and encompassing nearly all of southern Nevada, western Arizona, Texas, and Oklahoma.
According to Heat.gov, the web portal for the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), the heat alerts cover more than 109 million people.
“A stagnant upper-level high in place over the Southwest/northern Mexico will not only remain in place but begin to build in coverage, particularly to the northwest over the Great Basin and California,” NWS said in its update.
“Widespread heat-related advisories and warnings remain in place across the Central/Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley as well as portions of the Desert Southwest and California as a very intense heat wave takes shape,” experts said.
By the weekend, multiple locations across the west could see record-breaking temperatures, according to NWS, while locations further east in the Plains, Lower Mississippi Valley, and southeast could see temperatures reach the upper 90s and low 100s, although high humidity levels could make it feel much warmer in those areas—up to 115 degrees.
Heatwave to Stick Around
There appears to be no immediate respite in sight as the intensely hot and stuffy conditions are expected to worsen over the weekend and continue into next week, weather officials said.
“Unfortunately, the long-term outlook for the region shows a continued heatwave through this weekend and into next week,” NWS wrote in its bulletin.
“To underscore just how expansive this heat is, based off the current forecast approximately 27 million people across the Lower 48 will experience an air temperature or heat index above 110 over the next 7 days. It is imperative users take action to limit their exposure to the oppressive hot weather as it looks to stick around for the time being,” the weather agency said.
In a separate update late Wednesday, NSW warned of the extreme dangers posed by the excessive heat, in part owing to a cooler start to the summer, which it said may have limited the ability for people to acclimate to more typical hot weather.
The Central Valley of California, portions of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts in southern California, southern Nevada, and Arizona are areas most at risk heading into the weekend, NWS said.
NWS stressed the excessive heat will likely continue for the next two weeks across much of the southwestern United States and expand further into Texas.
Extreme Heat Risks
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 618 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year and older adults, young children, and those with mental illness and chronic diseases are at the highest risk.
The health agency recommends individuals wear loose lightweight, loose-fitting clothing during periods of excessive heat, and stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings as much as possible, including shopping malls or public libraries.
Outdoor activity should also be limited, according to the CDC.
Additionally, the agency notes that while electric fans may offer some temporary relief from the heat, when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Instead, individuals should take regular cold showers or move to air-conditioned places.
Last month was the warmest June on record globally since at least 1850, according to the nonprofit research organization, Berkeley Earth, with soaring temperatures plaguing Phoenix and extreme heat in California prompting deadly wildfires to rapidly spread.
In contrast to the south and southwest parts of the country, parts of the northeastern United States have been hit with severe rain and heavy flooding in recent days, with more than 13 million Americans placed under flood watches and warnings from eastern New York state to Boston and western Maine last week.
In Vermont, which was one of the hardest-hit areas, more than 8,000 residents of the state capital of Montpelier have been placed under a boil water notice owing to severe flooding that impacted wells and water pumps.
Meanwhile, extreme weather across the Chicago area on Wednesday spawned at least eight tornadoes in four counties in northeastern Illinois, disrupting flights at O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport.
Reuters contributed to this report.