If you thought it was hotter than usual this summer, you’re not imagining things.
So far, the Midwest and South have been suffering most. But this week, the Northeast joins in the misery.
The wave of heat transformed a large swath of the nation’s midsection into a sauna, with at least 17 states reaching the 100-degree mark on Tuesday, and many more experiencing temperatures into the 90’s — a result of high pressures compressing and cooking the air. States from Texas to Montana and the Dakotas had widespread heat warnings or advisories in place by Wednesday evening, affecting over 140 million Americans. And so far, at least 22 deaths across the nation have been attributed to the heat wave, the National Weather Service reported.
In Chicago Wednesday, the temperature shot up to 99 degrees by midday, falling just short of the 101-degree record set in 1980, but the intense humidity made the city feel a lot more like 110 degrees. Even Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, known for its often frigid conditions, saw temperatures soar into the 90’s, reaching as high as 95 degrees. And in Minneapolis, the dew point temperature, a measure of how moist and muggy the air feels, reached 82 degrees on Tuesday, breaking an all-time record.
Some forecasters said they were concerned the damage wrought by the heat could be greater than that of the severe heat wave that struck in the summer of 1995, when a hot-air mass settled over Chicago, claiming over 700 lives and hospitalizing thousands over the course of three days.
In many states health officials were urging residents to drink plenty of water, stay indoors or travel to cooling centers, and check on their elderly neighbors and relatives. But forecasters warned that the suffering was only just beginning. The wave of heat is moving east and will likely turn some already sweltering cities along the I-95 corridor into enormous and dangerous bubbles of heat on Friday. Forecasters with Accuweather.com said residents of Philadelphia and Washington should brace for 100 degree temperatures, and not far away in Boston and New York City, the highs will climb into the upper 90’s. Even at night the heat will show no mercy: expect temperatures to drop only as low as the 80’s, Accuweather forecasters said.
And of course, guess what the power companies want you to do in this heat…