Now that it’s officially summer in the Northern Hemisphere, as of Tuesday’s solstice, temperatures are heating up. But a heat wave this extreme is unusual nearly any time of the year, let alone in late June.
Temperatures are about 5-10 degrees F (around 4 degrees C) hotter than normal in states like Texas, and about 20 degrees F (about 10 degrees C) in Minnesota. The official temperature in Minneapolis reached 101 degrees F (38.3 deg C) on Monday — the city’s hottest day since July 2012 according to Currently’s Sven Sundgaard.
And, this heat won’t dissipate anytime soon. Temperatures are very likely to remain warmer than normal over the next 6 to 10 days for pretty much everyone across the continental United States. Almost every American will see lasting temperatures in the 90s F ( 32 degrees C) this week, with many enduring temperatures in the triple digits.
Despite being fairly preventable, heat-related illness is one of the most deadly weather-related impacts. And, while severe heat may seem less alarming than being struck by a hurricane or tornado, heat illness is much more common and is particularly dangerous for children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses. It is also difficult to avoid if you do not have access to air conditioning or if you work outside.
In particularly vulnerable states, like Texas, power outages are another major concern; power demands driven up by the heat put extra pressure on an already unstable grid. After experiencing Texas’ hottest spring on record, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) predicted that this summer could also be the state’s hottest in history — warning that temperatures reaching above 105 degrees F “should be frequent.”
As climate change — caused by decades of fossil fuel burning — continues to make heat waves like this longer and more intense, it’s more important than ever to prepare yourself and your community for adaptation.
If you don’t have access to air conditioning this summer, be sure to get prepared by looking up where your local cooling centers are located. The CDC also has some tips for staying healthy and safe in severe heat.