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Sweltering Temperatures Trigger Heat Alerts in at Least 19 States

Published: June 19, 2024
People play beach volleyball in Domino Park in Brooklyn, New York, as a heat wave hits the northeast US on June 18, 2024. Extreme heat and high humidity smothered the central and northeastern United States on Tuesday, with temperature records expected to melt away in the coming days, authorities warned, as wildfires sizzled in the west. (Image: ADAM GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

New York State and at least another 18 others are sweltering under a “heat dome” that is expected to only worsen throughout the week, according to forecasters.

In New York temperatures are expected to continue to soar into the 90s each day for the rest of the week, with temperatures hitting 88 degrees on Saturday and 92 degrees on Sunday.

Christopher Tate, Fox Forecast Center meteorologist said that “the worst is yet to come, the temperatures are going to increase as we get into the latter half of this week. It’s going to be really uncomfortable here in the city, with heat and humidity pretty much dominating the conversation.”

The drawn out heat wave is being blamed on a “heat dome,” a hot air mass trapped under a high-pressure system that locks in place.

City authorities are warning that the conditions are not only uncomfortable but could pose a hazard.

“It can be deadly and life-threatening if you are not prepared,” Tate said, adding that New Yorkers who work outside should take frequent breaks and do “whatever possible to keep your body temperature down.”

Steve Fallon, a 57-year-old construction worker told the NY Post, “I’ve been doing this for 20 years. It’s not pleasant, but you’ve got to live through it — you do the best you can.”

“If you stay home, you don’t get paid — so I’ve gotta make a living,” he said. “But this is the time when you think about opening up a bar on the beach somewhere.”  


Active heat alerts

New York is not the only state baking under the heat, at least 18 other states in the Midwest and Northeast have issued heat alerts and some areas are expecting to see their hottest days in over three decades. 

While New York state saw temperatures soar to 94 degrees, Toledo Ohio saw temperatures reach 99 degrees; Chicago 97 degrees and Cleveland 96 degrees. 

On June 18, temperatures reached 97 degrees in Pittsburgh, 93 degrees in Chicago and Detroit; 92 in Washington and 90 in Boston.

New York is expected to see a five-day heat wave with temperatures above 90 degrees, something that has not happened in the state since June of 1988.

“This is one for the ages,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Tuesday. “The real feel temperature will exceed 100 degrees starting as early as today, which is abnormal for this time of year.”

Officials said that cooling centers are being readied and water supplies are being secured across the state. 

In Boston, a heat emergency is in effect from June 18 to 20.

“Everyone should make sure to stay hydrated, limit outdoor activity when possible, wear plenty of sunscreen, and check on your neighbors and loved ones,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said in a statement. “The City is here to support residents through a variety of resources, and I urge anyone with questions to call 311 for assistance in staying safe in the heat.”


Tips to stay cool

Prolonged exposure to these types of temperatures can take a toll on people’s health. Every year the U.S. experiences a number of heat related illnesses and even fatalities. 

To stay cool experts encourage people to reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous outdoor activity until the cooler times of the day and to wear light, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing, and wear a wide-brimmed hat when venturing outdoors. 

Drink plenty of water and avoid direct sunlight and avoid heavy meals which can raise your body’s temperature and don’t forget that the same advice is made for your pets.

Give your pets lots of fresh water and if possible keep them indoors in an air-conditioned space as much as possible.

Never leave a child or a pet in a parked car for even a minute.

Be sure to check on your elderly neighbors or others you know who may need assistance.

People also need to be aware of how high temperatures impact the use of prescription medications.

Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told UPI News that heat stroke “not only occurs when temperatures reach dangerous levels, but also from the use of certain therapeutic medicines, recreational [legal] drugs and illegal substances,” she said, adding that, “These can prevent the body from cooling down through sweating. Too often, this results in serious complications, including drug-induced fever, dehydration and death.”

“Excessive heat combined with certain substances like ecstasy [MDMA], cocaine, methamphetamine, alcohol and heroin can be deadly. Being under the influence of these substances can make it hard to recognize symptoms of overheating,” she said.