115 Degrees Fahrenheit - The New York Times

Today, New Orleans will hit 113 degrees in the heat index. Houston will hit 111. Mobile, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., will also top 110. And those are just a few of the places that will experience dangerous heat this week.

Summer has technically just begun, and parts of the US are already seeing the unusual heat that experts are warning about and becoming more common as a result of climate change. About 45 million people — or 14 percent of the US population — live in areas expected to reach dangerous temperatures in the coming days.

Today and tomorrow, the heat will be concentrated over Texas, Louisiana and parts of the South. By the end of the week, it is expected to spread South and West, as the following map shows:

The heat index measures not only temperature, but how hot it feels outside taking humidity into account as well. (Heat index forecasts are usually accurate for the next day, but become less reliable the further projected into the future.) If you're in one of these large cities, here's what you can expect:

  • In the Houstonthe index is expected to peak at 111 degrees this week before falling to 106 on Sunday.

  • In the New Orleansthe heat index will hit 111 degrees today, rise to 115 on Thursday and stay above 110 for the week.

  • Jacksonville, Fla.will peak at 106 degrees today on the index and gradually rise until it reaches 109 later this week.

  • In the Bakersfield, California.the heat index will rise above 100 on Friday.

When the index measures between 103 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit, experts call this dangerous heat. Such temperatures carry a higher risk of cramps and fatigue and heat stroke, especially after exercising or long stretches in the sun.

The heat had resulted in tragedy. On Saturday, a 14-year-old hiker fell ill and died in Big Bend National Park in Texas when temperatures hit 119 degrees Fahrenheit. His 31-year-old stepfather crashed his car and died while seeking help.

The two may not have been the only heat-related deaths in Texas this past week, my colleagues Jacey Fortin and Mary Beth Gahan report. In Dallas, a postal worker collapsed and died on his way during a heat overload alert. Officials are investigating whether the heat was to blame.

This week's heat seems to be just the beginning. Meteorologists predict hotter than usual summers this year, especially in the West, Southwest, South, and Northeast. El Niño, a Pacific weather pattern, can make global temperatures higher.

Climate change is one of the causes of increasing heat. Summer temperatures have steadily increased over the last three decades. A warmer climate will push those temperatures higher, resulting in more severe heatwaves, wildfires and other extreme weather.

It's too late to reverse those trends for this summer and for the next few years, but you can take steps to protect yourself. First, pay attention to the noxious heat in your area and respond accordingly: Stay inside, drink enough water, and avoid direct sunlight or outdoor exercise.

Related: Using The Times heat tracker, you can view the heat index in your area for the coming week to help reduce your own risk.

  • Concho Valley in West Texas is hotter than Death Valley on weekends.

  • The storm brought hail and baseball-sized tornadoes to the Midwest and South over the weekend.

  • The storm has reached the East Coast. Thousands of flights canceled or postponedThe Wall Street Journal reported.

  • The intensity of the rain created a risk of flooding in parts of the US where drainage systems were not built to cope.

  • Wirecutter has suggestions for keeping your kitchen cool. (One tip: Let the slow cooker run.)

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