SIZZLING JULY TEMPERATURES BAKE SOUTHERN PLAINS STATES
July 24, 2001 Late July temperatures averaging five to 10 degrees above normal are baking the states of New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. Temperatures throughout the region ranged from highs in the mid-90s in central New Mexico to highs of 108 degrees in southwest Oklahoma and 109 in central Kansas, according to NOAA's National Weather Service.
Hot and humid conditions prevail as a dome of high pressure continues to dominate the region. Despite the spate of I00-degree-plus temperatures across the region, no new records have been set. However, intense heat and high humidity have prompted NOAA's National Weather Service to issue numerous heat advisoriesmany of which remain in effect for central Texas and much of Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Near the center of the dome, Oklahoma has been particularly hard hit. Tuesday, July 24, marked the ninth consecutive day of 100-degree temperatures for metropolitan Oklahoma City where at least six deaths were attributed to the heat wave.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center's 6 to 10 day outlook calls for the heat to continue, with the heat index, that is temperature and humidity combined, reaching up to 110 degrees in an area from Kansas City south through Texas and along Gulf coast states all the way to Florida.
In a normal year, an average of 175 people will succumb to summer heat waves in the United States, but any given year can vary dramatically from the norm. For example, one of the worst periods on record was the disastrous heat wave of 1980 which claimed more than 1,200 lives. Equally devastating was the summer of 1995 during which more than 1,000 people died of heat-related causes.
Excessive heat can be a killer, but it doesn't have to be if you follow basic safety rules.Stay indoors (preferably in air conditioned space) as much as possible. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Drink plenty of water and natural juices. Avoid alcohol and beverages with caffeine which could increase dehydration.
To protect yourself, you should:
Eat small, light meals. Avoid strenuous activities or at least reschedule them for early morning or late evening hours. Learn the symptoms of heat disorders and what to do about them.
To protect others you should:
- Never leave children or pets in a closed vehicle where temperatures could soar to 190 degrees in less than 10 minutes.
- Check on elderly neighbors.
- Always protect small children from the sun.
- Provide shade and cool water for pets.
With the proper precautions you can beat the heat.
Relevant Web Sites
NOAA's Excessive Heat Outlook
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center's 6 to 10 day Outlook
1999 Heat-Related Fatalities PDF file. You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view it.
1995 Heat-Related Fatalities
NOAA's Heat and Drought Awareness
NOAA's Weather Page
NOAA's Storm Watch
Ron Trumbla, NOAA's National Weather Service Southern Region, (817) 978-4613 ext. 140