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U.S. heat wave: Over 100 million people under alerts in 28 states

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Records are crashing as temperatures spike amid a high-end heat wave baking the Great Plains. Temperatures have spiked to 115 degrees in Texas and Oklahoma, with more than 60 million Americans expected to see triple-digit heat over the next week.

Heat advisories and excessive heat Warnings affect more than 105 million people in 28 states both across the central United States and the Northeast, where the combination of hot weather and high humidity will lead to conditions ripe for heat-related illness or heatstroke.

The Weather Channel tweeted that more than 200 million people will experience highs exceeding 90 degrees for the next three days.

Dallas, Oklahoma City and Tulsa could all approach 110 degrees in the days ahead, and some locations have blown past that. For the first time on record, every one of Oklahoma’s network of 120 weather stations hit 103 degrees on Tuesday.

Why this European heat wave is so scary

Oklahoma City proper spiked to 110 degrees for the first time in a decade on Tuesday. That marks only the ninth time since just after World War II that the Sooner State’s capital has been so hot — a once-every-10-years event, on average. It also beats out a record that has stood since 1936.

The top reading came from Mangum in Southwest Oklahoma, which hit 115 degrees at 5:55 pm

It was comparably hot in north Texas, where Fort Worth’s Meacham International Airport climbed to 110 degrees and Dallas got to 109. Wichita Falls hit 115, a July record.

“Another day of exceptional heat lies ahead with triple-digit Highs forecast for all of North and Central Texas,” wrote the National Weather Service in Fort Worth in an online technical discussion.

Dallas is Predicted to Peak around 107 degrees Wednesday, and it should be in the lower 100s essentially until further notice. Austin and San Antonio are also expecting similar temperatures.

“We’re sort of in our third wave of well-above-average temperatures this summer for south Central Texas,” said Keith White, a meteorologist at the Weather Service in Austin, in an interview Wednesday. “Austin could be looking at 106 or 107 today. Just last week, there were three days in Austin at or above 106.”

Every day between July 9 and July 13 in Austin tied or broke a record high. The city made it to a whopping 110 degrees on July 10, and hit 109 on the 11th and 12th. That’s the hottest three-day stretch on record in the city; Bookkeeping dates back to 1897.

“The 110 degrees is the 10th actually tied for our second warmest temperature recorded in history in Austin,” White said. So far, Austin has logged 39 hundred-degree days this season, and San Antonio’s up to 40.

“That’s the most we’ve ever seen at this point in the season, even surpassing 2011, the banner year for drought and fires,” White said.

Drought and fire have both been issues across much of Texas and Oklahoma, where red flag warnings are in effect. Along and especially west of Interstate 35, humidity levels below 25 percent, coupled with Winds gusting up to 30 mph, are brewing conditions ripe for swift fire spread.

Several fires cropped up across north Central Texas on Monday, including in Somervell County, Southwest of Dallas.

“We’ve had a large number of fires across our region, and even more and larger ones in other areas of Texas,” White said. They blamed both the recent spate of dry weather and an anomalously wet spring last year. That helped plants to grow and provided a greater availability of fuels that would later dry up.

“[The wet spring in 2021] allowed a lot of vegetation to grow more than normal, then we had a drier winter, spring and summer, making things susceptible to burning,” White said.

Closer to the Gulf Coast, a touch more humidity is present. While that will cap temperatures slightly lower — between 98 and 102 degrees — the juicy air mass in place will help heat indexes top 105 degrees.

“Today will be a scorcher no matter where you are in the [area],” wrote the Weather Service in Houston.

That humidity is wafting north towards the Ozarks and up the Mississippi Valley as well. In Little Rock, Wednesday’s high temperature was predicted to peak just a hair over 100 degrees, but heat indexes could flirt with 115 degrees.

The local Weather Service office described the setup as “Hot, muggy, and basically ‘swimming in the air’ conditions.”

What’s behind the heat? A stagnant ridge of high pressure colloquially known as a “heat dome.” High pressure results in sinking air, which clears skies and fosters copious sunshine. The high acts as a force field of sorts, diverting the jet stream northward and deflecting any inclement weather into Canada.

While the heat Dome looks to shift east a touch in the coming days, it doesn’t look to break down any time soon, meaning there’s no immediate end in sight to the heat. In Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Dallas, Wichita Falls, Houston, Austin and Little Rock, Highs should remain around or above 100 degrees for at least the next week.

The heat will also bleed towards the East Coast. Heat advisories span from Delaware through parts of interior New York into southern New Hampshire on Wednesday, where the combination of heat and humidity will make it feel like 95 to 100 degrees in the north and 100 to 105 degrees in the south.

Some of the hottest weather along the East Coast is forecast this weekend. On Sunday, Highs could touch the century mark from Washington to New York for the first time in at least several years.

The heat coincides with a historically extreme event in Europe, which so far has killed more than 1,000 people and fueled wildfires that have prompted 40,000 to evacuate. A staggering 34 weather stations broke the 101.7 degrees threshold in Britain, logging temperatures higher than anything Britain has observed before.

Brutal heat Dome moves east, with Central Europe set to swelter

Human-induced climate change is irrefutably amplifying the duration and severity of heat waves.


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