More than 100 million people – or one third of the U.S. population – are living under either a heat advisory or an excessive heat warning.
The heat wave is currently baking more than 20 Southern Plains and Northeastern states, CNN reported. The National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center (NWSWPC) said Tuesday that more than 40 high temperature records could be broken Tuesday and Wednesday, while more than 90 maximum minimum records could be breached by Thursday morning.
“Dangerous and record-breaking heat is forecast across much of the south-central U.S. today and is expected to linger through much of this week,” the NWSWPC wrote.
Between today and Wednesday, nearly 40 high temperature records are at risk of breaking. Also, through Thursday morning over 90 warm minimum temperature records could fall. 🌡️ For more, visit: https://t.co/jnP5oP2MfY pic.twitter.com/AixMyPaCP0— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) July 19, 2022
The heat in the U.S. comes as a heat wave broke records, claimed lives and ignited wildfires in the UK and Europe. While Europe cooled slightly Wednesday, fires are still raging and more than 1,500 people have died in Spain and Portugal, ABC News reported. Experts say that the sweltering temperatures over both continents are a sign of the climate crisis.
“While each heat wave itself is different, and has individual dynamics behind it, the probability of these events is a direct consequence of the warming planet,” the Columbia Climate School’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York climate scientist Jason Smerdon told ABC News.
Currently in the U.S., 60 million people face temperatures higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit over the next week, while around 265 million people – or more than 80 percent of the U.S. population – face high temperatures greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the same time period, CNN reported.
The highest heat is expected in the Southern Plains. On Tuesday, Oklahoma City reached 110 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking a daily record set during the Dust Bowl and matching its July record, The New York Times reported. Abilene, Texas, also broke a daily record from 1936 with the same temperature.
Oklahoma City resident Colin Newman told Reuters that the air felt like a “dragon’s breath.”
“We plan our days around getting from one air-conditioned place to another,” the 40-year-old said.
Triple digit temperature readings are also expected in Arkansas and Louisiana for Wednesday, The New York Times reported. Much of the Northeast is bracing for high heat as well.
“Heat advisories currently extend along the I-95 corridor from Philadelphia to Boston and cover much of Upstate New York as well,” The NWSWPC said Wednesday. “The hot temperatures and high humidity will push heat indices into the upper 90s and low 100s across much of the region.”
Hot and humid conditions will combine to produce maximum heat index values ranging from the mid 90s to around 100 on Wednesday and Thursday. A Heat Advisory is in effect across the entire area. https://t.co/6NEWpQSiDp pic.twitter.com/jdnYg3rsLo— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) July 19, 2022
The Boston area could see six days in a row of weather above 90 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time since 2016, The New York Times reported. In New York City, meanwhile, cooling centers are opening up for people who don’t have air conditioning, Reuters reported.
“I am urging all New Yorkers to prepare for heat and humidity this week and to keep a close eye on the weather over the next couple of days,” New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul said, as The Guardian reported.
Hochul issued a warning and said that people should check on neighbors especially vulnerable to the heat such as senior citizens and people with disabilities.
All of this hot weather has sparked wildfires, with 86 major blazes burning in 13 states, the National Interagency Fire Center said Wednesday. The fires have so far torched nearly 3.1 million acres, with five new blazes reported in Oklahoma, Texas, Idaho and Montana.
#NationalFireNews: Almost 3.1 million acres have burned in 86 large fires and complexes across the country. 5 new large fires: 2 in OK and 1 in ID, MT, and TX. Extreme fire behavior was reported on large fires in ID and TX. More: https://t.co/P0MN7Ep9ne pic.twitter.com/OX7cEsU8we— National Interagency Fire Center (@NIFC_Fire) July 20, 2022