Extreme heat covers much of the country except them u Great Lakes and New England (happy, happy bastards). A staggering 81 million live in areas under some form of heat warning by the National Weather Service.
The latest heat wave is, in a way, the worst thing that has hit the United States so far. Regional heating was the name of the game this summer, but the current heat wave is shocking in both scope and size. Three-digit temperatures are affecting different locations like Washington and Louisiana.
For heat-depleted sites, the bad news is that high temperatures are expected to persist until the weekend in many locations. Worse, the heat is expected to intensify next week in parts of the Pacific Northwest and northern rocky mountains. This is a testament to the flight, yes. But also the story of an era of climate change where extreme heat is the norm and nowhere is it immune to its effects.
Our Terrible Dude, Heat Dome
This summer we had the opportunity to talk about thermal domes. Which sucks because it sucks. Or at least they suck if you prefer that time is not some version of a sauna or steam room.
Currently, a large area of the U.S. is trapped under high pressure. This locks up mostly sunny skies, which intensifies the heat on the ground, which in turn locks up even more pressure. It’s a vicious circle that is taking place too often this year. The most extreme example is the one that roasted the Pacific Northwest in late June and early July. But other heat domes formed and led to incredible temperatures, including Death Valley binding of the most reliably recorded temperature anywhere on Earth. (This is a related record set in same place last year because this is the world we live in.)
However, this weeks the iteration is distinguished by how distributed the heat is. Seriously, take a look at this weather map for the National Weather Service. Red, purple and orange is where it’s damn hot. And as you can see, things are currently too hot in many locations in the US.
And some other colors aren’t exactly great, and can bind to warmth as well. Gray, for example, means poor air quality. These warnings occur in places downwind of heat-intensified fires. To the northwest of the fire brigade fight the Bootleg Fire, the largest fire in the United States he said they “have to be ready for anything” because of the increasing heat. They also seem to be going down the wind from the flames.
The heat comes in different flavors (but they are all bad)
While it may be that one dome rules all of them, the heat across the country has a different feel depending on where you are. The Northwest Pacific is mostly dry heat. Although dry heat with temperatures reaching 108 degrees Celsius (42.2 degrees Celsius) in parts of the interior of Washington and Oregon on Saturday.
“Afternoon heat combined with unusually warm night temperatures on Friday night and Saturday night will make it difficult for residents without air conditioning to control heat build-up in their homes,” NWS forecasters wrote in their warning of excessive heat in the region. A similar situation took place during the heat wave that hit the region in late June and ended with hundreds dead as a result.
In the south, air conditioning is much more common than in the northwest Pacific,, but the heat in the south as well is coming with a rush of moisture that will still make him incredibly uncomfortable and still dangerous. Taking this humidity into account, the heat index is expected to pass 113 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Celsius). Wet thermometer temperatures – a metric that includes heat, humidity and several other factors, and that is a key climate metrics– they hovered around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32.2 degrees Celsius) and even hit the region from Dallas to Florida Panhandle. Those readings are high enough that they can lead to serious heat-related illnesses in healthy people, and even death for those who spend an hour outside in the sun.
Climate change, climate change, climate change
Say it one more time with me, people: climate change. This makes extreme heat more likely and intense. We can’t talk about a dazzling summer from hell without talking about the consequences.
Approximately 1.8 degrees Celsius (1 degree Celsius) an increase in global average temperatures as pre-industrial times might seem short. But that seemingly tiny bump has a big impact on extreme heat. A study published on Nature Climate Change shows this week that “record climate extremes” will become up to seven times more likely in the next few decades due to global warming.
In practice, that means preparing for more of what we see this week. Even if the carbon pollution magically stopped tomorrow, freeing me to finally realize my dream of opening a pizzeria and punk rock spot in a small mountain town where I can ski 100 days a year (it will work, and it will be great, I just know that), the heat would not stop just because of climate change that has already been introduced into the system. Like this summer of death, forest fires, i decimation of natural world shows that we still have a lot of work to do to adapt to life on our hot planet, in addition to closing the tap for fossil fuels.