We have a strong, but not unprecedented, heat wave gripping the central USA. NOAA made this video animation to show the breadth of it, which I converted to YouTube so everyone could view it:
NOAA’s description of this video:
A shroud of high pressure has taken a foot-hold over the U.S. from the Plains to the Northeast, and with it has brought temperatures well into the 90’s and 100’s for half of the country. This animation shows the predicted daily high temperatures from NOAA’s high resolution North American Model (NAM) from July 13-21, 2011.
NOAA writes: Dangerous heat grips Central U.S. Forecast to also affect East
Unhealthy levels of heat and humidity are encompassing much of central U.S. from the Southern Plains through the upper Midwest and this sultry heat will move east this week into the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service.
Temperatures in the 90s to near 100 degrees will feel as hot as 115 degrees or higher when factoring in the high humidity. Record high temperatures are likely to be set in some locations — adding to the more than 1000 records that have been set or tied so far this month.
“This heat is dangerous on many levels,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. “Temperatures and humidity levels are high, the heat will be prolonged, and very warm temperatures overnight won’t provide any respite. All of these factors make this an unhealthy situation, especially those in the upper Midwest who are not accustom to such heat.”
No quibbles there, a large blocking high like we saw last year in Russia is stubbornly fixated over the central USA. The media however, is on another story.
Don Penim writes in tips and notes:
Hot topic. Here we go again.
The Media is loving this heat wave. According to this CNN report :
“The National Weather Service notes that typically extreme heat is the biggest weather-related killer in the United States, taking about 115 lives each year.”
Not according to the data, see:
In an article entitled, “The impact of global warming on health and mortality,” published in the Southern Medical Journal in 2004, W.R. Keatinge and G.C. Donaldson of Queen Mary’s School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of London note:
“Cold-related deaths are far more numerous than heat-related deaths in the United States, Europe, and almost all countries outside the tropics, and almost all of them are due to common illnesses that are increased by cold.”
“From 1979 to 1997, extreme cold killed roughly twice as many Americans as heat waves, according to Indur Goklany of the U.S. Department of the Interior,” Singer and Avery write. “Cold spells, in other words, are twice as dangerous to our health as hot weather.”
Here’s Goklany’s report Deaths and Death Rates from Extreme Weather Events: 1900-2008 (PDF). This table pretty well sums it up:
UPDATE: some historical perspective
11:50 PM CDT on Friday, August 6, 2010
By DAVID FLICK / The Dallas Morning News
Friday marked the seventh day in a row that temperatures in the Dallas area reached at least 100 degrees, but it was not what some people would call hot.
Those people – that is, people who remember Dallas during the summer of 1980 – can tell you about hot.
It was 30 years ago this week that a 42-day string of 100 degree days – the longest heat wave by far in the region’s history – was broken. For one day. More triple digits followed, and when autumn mercifully arrived, temperatures had hit the century mark 69 times.