Don’t Let the Heat Kill You

UPDATED WITH ANTHONY’S WEDNESDAY MIDDAY VIDEO WEATHER FORECAST

Dangerous summer heat will take over from Texas to Minnesota down to Kentucky and up to Ohio today and tomorrow and this includes the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa.  Heat advisories and excessive heat watches and warnings have been issued for today and/or Thursday for temperatures in the 90s and topping 100° and for heat indices (the temperature your body feels from the combination of heat and humidity) of 100-120°.

In the Quad Cities, an “Excessive Heat Watch” has been issued for Thursday morning through Friday morning.  I expect this to be upgraded to an “Excessive Heat Warning” later today or early Thursday.

On this map from the National Weather Service, counties shaded in the darkest red color are under an “Excessive Heat Watch” beginning Thursday, the purple indicates an “Excessive Heat Warning” (noon Wednesday through 7 p.m. Saturday) and the peach, a “Heat Advisory” (Thursday afternoon and evening).

High temperatures today in the Quad Cities will reach 96° on strong southerly winds.  While humidity will be on the increase pushing the heat index near 100° today, you’ll really notice the stifling heat and humidity tonight, Thursday, and Thursday night.

Overnight lows tonight will only drop into the mid-70s, but it’ll feel closer to 80°.  With the very warm start to the day Thursday, high temperatures will easily make it into the upper-90s for the metro area.  Hometowns just to our south from Galesburg to Macomb, Illinois, and across southeast Iowa, will likely top 100°.

The last time the Quad Cities hit 100° was July 19, 2011.  Not only was it very hot that day, the heat index reached 120° and an “Excessive Heat Warning” was issued.

Before that, our last 100° temperature was July 17, 2006.

Scattered thunderstorms arriving in the evening hours Thursday or Thursday night may give us some much-needed rainfall, but it won’t bring much relief from the heat and humidity.

Highs in the upper-80s to the low-90s are in the forecast through the Fourth of July holiday.  There will also be a daily chance of thunderstorms across eastern Iowa and northern Illinois.  Many of these will form in the overnight hours across the Midwest and any of them have the potential to drop very heavy rains for us.  The only problem is that not everyone will get in on the thunderstorm activity.

Be careful out there over the next few days.  As we meteorologists always tell you:  make sure you drink plenty of water, avoid the sugary sodas and liquor, wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, wear a hat and sunscreen, and try to take many indoor cooling breaks.

And, most importantly, check on your elderly neighbors that may not want to run the air conditioning to save money.  Also, make sure any pets that stay outdoors have access to plenty of cool water and a shaded area!!!!!!!!!

NOT THE HOTTEST WEATHER ON RECORD

If the temperature does reach 100° in the Quad Cities Thursday, it’ll be hot, but it won’t even be a record.  The record high for Moline Thursday is 103°.  However, even that record high for the date tomorrow is nowhere the hottest on record.  That was 111° back on July 14, 1936.

As a matter of fact, it was very hot in July 1936.  Only 0.14″ of rain fell that month and in the Quad Cities, we went eleven consecutive days (July 5-15) with highs reaching 100° or higher, peaking at the aforementioned 111°.  In Burlington, Iowa, they had fourteen straight days of 100°+ heat, from July 4-17, 1936.

DEADLIEST HEAT I’VE ENCOUNTERED

While temperatures in western Kentucky, where I grew up and lived for almost 30 years, reached 100° many times and the heat index made it feel even hotter, the deadliest heat I ever encountered was in the summer of 1995 in Chicago, Illinois.

From July 12-16, 1995, the city was under a deadly heat wave.  High temperatures during those five days peaked at 98°, 106°, 102°, 99°, and 94°.  To make matters worse, overnight lows only dropped into the 76-81° range and the heat index peaked at 119° at O’Hare and 125° at Midway.

Also, with the concentration of buildings and abundant pavement, Chicago’s urban heat island raised temperatures in the city another 2-4°.

Power failures, brownouts, and blackouts were common during that five-day period.

My dog at the time, Keshia, freaked out at the vet’s office as the heat wave was beginning and because I was holding her, she bit through my thumbnail.  I thought it would be o.k., but two days later, it was infected.  By the time the antibiotics kicked in, I was miserable from the infection, the heat, and the power going on and off.  And, to think, this was my first full Chicago summer!!! (I moved there in July 1994).

However, I had it easy compared to thousands who were hospitalized from the excessive heat.  But, the real story of the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995 was the death toll.  In that week alone, there were about 750 heat-related deaths.  The images of cooling trucks being used as makeshift morgues still haunt me today.

The city was heavily criticized for what many saw as unprepared and for not issuing adequate warnings.  Subsequent heat waves in Chicago have not been as deadly and the city and the media are very vocal now when hot weather is forecast to settle in for several days.

Although very scientific, Eric Klinenberg’s “Heat Wave:  A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago” is a very good book analyzing the heat wave, who died, and why age and poverty played a huge role in the deaths in that heat wave.

Be careful out there over the next few days.  I want to have you around for someone to read my blogs.

Anthony

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