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Record-breaking Heat Waves Blaze Through the US, At Least 2 Confirmed Dead

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: July 26, 2022
A man tries to cool himself with a bottle of water during the first heat wave of the year on June 9, 2008 in New York City. (Image: Spencer Platt via Getty Images)

Millions of Americans are bracing themselves for what the country’s National Weather Service (NWS) has warned as “dangerously hot conditions.” The temperatures, which have reached 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (40.55 to 43.33 degrees Celsius), are expected to last through the week.

“Numerous record highs are forecast to be tied and/or broken today in the Northeast,” the NWS said in an announcement released on July 24, advising people to stay indoors if possible and remain hydrated. 

An “excessive heat warning” was issued for large swaths of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, the NSW’s announcement said, adding that “the extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities.”

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The NSW added that in Oklahoma, Las Vegas and multiple cities in Texas, temperatures could reach as high as 111 degrees, and urged residents there to check on vulnerable people (children, the elderly, and those with underlying medical conditions), for symptoms of heatstroke. 

Pacific Northwest braces for second heat wave in two years

As of the middle of the week, the Pacific Northwest is bracing for a major heat wave just as the Northeastern part of the United States will soon see a slight break in extreme temperatures.

In Washington state and Oregon temperatures were forecast to top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) in some places as climate change fuels longer hot spells in a region where such events were historically uncommon.

While high temperatures are sometimes seen in the Northeast for extended periods, local officials and residents in the Northwest have been scrambling to adjust to longer, hotter heat waves following last summer’s deadly “heat dome.”

Confirmed deaths 

In New York City, one heat-related death was reported on Monday (July 25), with the city’s chief medical examiner announcing that the patient’s death was due to “hypertensive cardiovascular disease and pulmonary emphysema” in relation to the extreme temperatures. No other details about the victim were made immediately available. 

In Allentown, Pennsylvania, a 73-year-old man died of heat-related complications on July 24, NBC Philadelphia reported — adding that the state was experiencing a continuous stretch of temperatures reaching over 96 degrees.

According to the Lehigh County Coroner’s Office, the patient “died in his home from complications of insulin-dependent diabetes and hyperthermia, which is an abnormally high body temperature,” and that the man had “suffered from excessive heat exposure, complicated by underlying medical conditions.” 

On July 24, temperatures in Philadelphia reached over 100 degrees for the first time in a decade, prompting the NSW to issue a warning reminding people that heat kills more people than any other type of weather event in the country each year.

According to the NSW, a cold front approaching the Northeast on July 25 and 26 should bring some “less oppressive temperatures,” but warned that it could also bring about thunderstorms and high winds. 

In the Pacific Northwest heat wave experienced in June and early July 2021, about 800 people died across Oregon, Washington and British Columbia during the days-long extreme heat event, which saw record temperatures soar to 116 degrees F (46.7 C) in Portland and smash heat records in cities and towns across the region. Many of those who died were elderly and lived alone.

“To have five-day stretches or a weeklong stretch above 90 degrees is very, very rare for the Pacific Northwest,” said Vivek Shandas, professor of climate adaptation at Portland State University.

Many homes in the Pacific Northwest lack air conditioning given the typically moderate, overcast climate of the region.

Multnomah County, which includes Portland, is opening four overnight emergency cooling shelters starting Tuesday where vulnerable populations will be able to spend the night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.