US heat wave: Grim warnings issued as oppressive weather spreads

This warned leaders across the country: get to a cool place and check on each other.

But parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast — including New York, Philadelphia and Boston — are also under heat alert Wednesday and are expected to remain warm at least through the weekend.

In New York, residents are urged to stay indoors for the next few days to avoid “hazardous conditions that can lead to heat stress and illness,” said Jackie Bray, commissioner of the Homeland Security and Human Resources Division. state emergency services.
In Boston, Mayor Michelle Wu declared a heat-related emergency through Thursday and announced that at least 12 community centers will be open for anyone who wants to cool off. More than 50 wading pools will be available in city parks and playgrounds, she said.

“Climate change is clearly a risk to our health,” the mayor said. “I urge everyone to stay cool and safe, and watch your neighbors during the week.”

Connecticut’s governor has activated the state’s extremely hot weather protocol through Sunday, which will help, in part, ensure the availability of cooling centers.

Philadelphia declared a noon “heat warning” Tuesday through Thursday evening, urging people to avoid being outdoors from noon to 5 p.m. and to use air conditioners or fans, the city said in an email to CNN.

The heatwave comes as President Joe Biden was expected to announce new funding on Wednesday for communities facing extreme heat and measures to boost the offshore wind industry during a speech at a former coal-fired power plant in Massachusetts .
And it’s not just in the United States: the climate crisis has pushed weather conditions to extremes all over the world, with a scorching heat wave that has also swept across Europe this week.
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Water is displayed for sale outside a Staten Island grocery store on a hot Tuesday afternoon in New York City.

Record highs set Tuesday in Oklahoma and Texas

The south-central United States has already seen brutal temperatures in recent days. On Tuesday in Texas and Oklahoma, a number of record high temperatures were recorded that day. That includes Wichita Falls, Texas, where Tuesday’s high of 115 degrees broke a record of 112 set in 2018.
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As of Tuesday, the Austin area had hit 100 degrees for 38 of the past 44 days, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’re asking people to save energy so the systems keep running,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Wednesday. “We’re asking everyone to do this so we can get through this together.”

Heat makes air conditioners work. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates about 90% of the Texas electric grid, set a single-day record for electricity demand on Tuesday, and another record is expected on Wednesday, a spokesperson said. ‘ERCOT.

In Oklahoma, where temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Across much of the state on Tuesday, extreme heat and drought led to wildfires and rural water supply system outages, Department of Health spokesperson Keli Cain told CNN. Oklahoma Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The heat is helping to cause water main breaks in some Oklahoma communities, forcing those communities to advise residents to boil their water. Because Oklahoma’s predominant soil type is clay, extreme temperatures constrict the soil, causing soil to shift and rupture pipes, according to the Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Division. of State.

Many communities are taking water rationing measures, department spokeswoman Erin Hatfield said.

“In addition to pipe breaks, we are seeing water pressure losses due to increased water demand, and some communities are unable to completely fill water towers overnight, Hatfield said.

Little Rock, Arkansas recorded its 10th day This year with temperatures of at least 100 degrees Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. The service warned Wednesday will be “another brutal day”, with both hot temperatures and dangerous heat indices.

In Texas, some prisons are without air conditioning

A number of correctional facilities across Texas do not have working air conditioning, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

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“There are 100 units (Texas Department of Criminal Justice), 31 have full air conditioning, 55 partial air conditioning, and 14 have no air conditioning. We take many precautions to mitigate the effects of high temperatures on those incarcerated in our facilities,” Amanda Hernandez, a spokesperson for the department, told CNN in an email.

The state has experienced at least four heat waves this season, a heat wave that began affecting residents even before the official start of summer. And with the sweltering heat continuing, some people in the criminal justice system have fallen ill from heat-related injuries.

“In 2022, seven inmates required medical attention beyond first aid for heat-related injuries,” Hernandez said. “None were fatal.”

Heat managers help cities cope

As longer periods of excessive heat have become more common, some local governments have hired heat officers to help navigate the response.

Miami-Dade County heat manager Jane Gilbert told CNN’s Don Lemon on Tuesday that Miami now has nearly double the number of days with a heat index above 90 degrees compared to the 1970s.

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“And we’re getting many, many more days with the heat index, the most extreme levels of 103, 105,” Gilbert said. “It’s not only about people’s health, but also about their wallets. Our outside workers can’t work that long, they waste working time. People can’t afford this AC power, the cost of electricity higher. This is both a health and economic crisis.”

Those without air conditioning can stay cool by leaving windows open, using fans and putting cold towels over their necks, Gilbert said. She also suggested people check in on friends, family and neighbors.

“Older people, young children, people with certain health conditions may be more vulnerable to the heat. It’s really important to monitor these people and make sure they have the ability to take care of themselves. ourselves,” Gilbert said.

David Hondula, director of the Office of Heat Response and Mitigation for Phoenix, echoed that sentiment saying, “Heat can affect anyone, we are all at risk.”

Hondula suggested especially monitoring community members who may not have access to regular shelter.

“If we see someone sleeping, for example, in the sun on a hot surface, don’t assume they’re just taking a nap. There could be a real medical emergency out there and a call to 911 might be necessary.” , did he declare. said.

Why heat and humidity are particularly dangerous

Heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States, according to Kimberly McMahon, program manager for the National Weather Service’s public weather services.

“Heat affects everyone by limiting the body’s ability to cool itself,” McMahon said.

High humidity levels only further limit this ability.

“Sweating removes 22% of excess body heat by redirecting heat to sweat evaporation,” said CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford. “High humidity means there is more moisture in the air. Because there is so much more moisture in the air, sweat evaporates more slowly, slowing down your body’s natural ability to to cool down. This is why the heat indices on a day with high humidity can seem much warmer than the actual air temperature.”

Too much heat and humidity can lead to heat-related illnesses including heat cramps, rash, heat exhaustion “and – worst of all – heat stroke which can lead to death”, McMahon said.

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There are an average of 702 heat-related deaths and 9,235 hospitalizations each year across the country, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the threat is only growing, according to the agency.

“Extreme heat is a real threat and should be taken seriously,” McMahon added.

According to the CDC, those most vulnerable to high temperatures are outdoor workers, pregnant women, people with heart or lung conditions, young children, the elderly, and athletes.

CNN’s Michelle Watson, Dave Hennen, Joe Sutton, Rebekah Riess, Paradise Afshar and Mike Saenz contributed to this report.

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