What to Know About the Heat Wave
A blast of hot air is expected to raise temperatures across much of the contiguous United States over the coming week, adding another period of sweltering days to what has already been a punishing summer for many.
The Great Plains and Midwest, as well as parts of the east, can expect highs 10 to 15 degrees above average, according to the National Weather Service. And in places where residents also have to deal with high humidity, those temperatures could look like they’ve hit triple digits.
This extreme heat will be the product of a “heat dome”, much like the one that oppressed the Pacific Northwest this summer.
Here’s what you need to know about heat waves:
What causes a heat wave?
In most parts of the country, temperatures must be above the historical average in an area for two or more days before the “heat wave” label is applied to a heat wave, according to the National Weather Service. But the definition may vary by region; in the northeast, it is defined as three consecutive days in the 90s or more.
Heat waves start when the high pressure in the atmosphere moves and pushes hot air towards the ground. This air heats up more as it is compressed and we start to feel a lot hotter.
The high pressure system pressing down on the ground expands vertically, forcing other weather systems to change course. It even minimizes wind and cloud cover, making the air more stuffy. This is also why a heat wave parks in an area for several days or more.
What is a heated dome?
As the soil warms up, it loses moisture, making it even easier to heat. And in the drought-ravaged west, there is a lot of heat to be trapped by the high pressure system.
As this trapped heat continues to heat up, the system acts like a lid on a pot – which has earned it the name “heating dome”. In the drought-ravaged west, there was plenty of heat to be trapped by the high pressure system, resulting in triple-digit temperatures in late June and early July that killed hundreds in Oregon, Washington and Columbia. British.
The deadly weather event would have been virtually impossible without climate change, according to a team of researchers.
Why is it hotter than normal in North America?
It has long been known that the world has warmed by more than one degree Celsius (about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1900, and that the rate of warming has accelerated in recent decades. The warmer baseline contributes to extreme weather events and helps make periods of extreme heat more frequent, longer, and more intense.
Last year was the hottest on record, and the past seven years have been the hottest in history, making extreme summer heat more common.
How can I protect myself against possible power outages?
To help reduce demand, consider raising the thermostat a few degrees and closing shades and shades. Avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines, and dryers during the hottest hours of the day, and turn off all unused lights and electronics. With water heating accounting for about 18% of the energy consumed in your home, consider shorter or cooler showers, suggests the Department of Energy.