Dangerous Heat Waves

America's National Weather Service issued Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories the first week of June 2021, with expectations for it to continue further into the month. Heat-related illnesses are more likely to develop as the temperatures soar.

Past statistics are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 600 people are killed each year in the United States from heat. They provide the following advice:

  1. Avoid being in the sun outdoors between 10 am and 4 pm.

  2. Stay hydrated - take frequent sips. By the time you feel thirsty, you are dehydrated.

  3. Use/get to air conditioning! Fans may not be adequate!

  4. Wear appropriate clothing

  5. Don’t stay in a car for extended periods.

What causes a heat wave?

Heat waves are the result of trapped air. Normally air circles the earth in large prevailing winds; however it is allowed to warm to uncharacteristic temperatures due to sunlight if it is trapped over one region. The air is often trapped due to high-pressure systems. The trapped air is unable to rise into the cooler upper atmosphere, therefore preventing precipitation. Heat waves typically last two or more days and are generally 10 degrees or more above average. Think about the air trapped inside an oven and how hot it becomes.

A heat wave is a period of excessively hot weather, accompanied by high humidity, especially in oceanic climate countries. While definitions vary, a heat wave is usually measured relative to the typical weather in the area and relative to average temperatures for the season.

Heat waves can be pretty dangerous, especially when the public is not prepared. For example, in July 2012, over 8000 temperature records were broken in the United States, and many deaths were attributed to the heat waves.

In 2003, a mega heat wave in Europe killed around 70,000 people. In 2010, 56,000 people were also killed by a mega heat wave in Russia. It also ruined the Russian wheat crop causing food riots and uprisings in 2011.