Heatwave in the US: Almost 100 million people on alert

Heatwave in the US: Almost 100 million people on alert

The Johnson family enjoys the shade outside their home in Houston, Texas on June 10, 2022. The Johnson family enjoys the shade outside their home in Houston, Texas on June 10, 2022. BRANDON BELL/AFP

Nearly one hundred million Americans, or nearly one-third of the population of the United States, have been placed on heat wave alert by the National Weather Service since Monday, June 13. Exceptional temperatures have been recorded across much of the country, from California to Virginia, but particularly in the Midwest, mercury topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 °C) for several days in a row.

The “warmth dome,” or high-pressure dome, which overlooks the Great Plains and Great Lakes region, is expected to persist for several more days, National Weather warned. “This heat, combined with high humidity, is likely to produce temperatures well above 37C in many places,” she warned. Temperatures above 42 degrees were expected in parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio on Wednesday. A temperature of 37 degrees was expected in Detroit, Michigan.

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The heat wave has been going on for several days. St. Louis, Missouri, surpassed its record high of 37.7 degrees on June 13. On June 11, heat records were observed in 27 major cities. In Phoenix, the Arizona capital, it was 45 degrees, a century record for this city of 1.7 million people, where the thermometer now climbs above 38 degrees four months out of the year (145 days in 2020). And 42 degrees in Las Vegas, for the first time since 1956. Municipalities have installed cooling centers in neighborhoods.

Deadly Episodes

Although 91% of American homes have air conditioning, episodes of extreme heat remain deadly, causing the deaths of more than 1,300 people each year, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Thunderstorms and tornadoes erupted on the edge of the heat dome Monday, causing power outages that affected several hundred thousand people, particularly in the Chicago, Illinois area.

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In Yellowstone National Park, flooding of the river has prompted an evacuation order and the closure of all entrances. This 8,900 km2 park is a national tourist gem – home to the Old Faithful Geyser, which erupts about twenty times a day – and is located primarily in Wyoming and to a lesser extent in Montana and Idaho.

The heat that has prevailed for several weeks has melted the snow faster than usual. The already swollen river has been fed by heavy rains in recent days. She overflowed and took away wooden huts and even bridges and houses on her way. More than 10,000 visitors have been asked to leave the park because of the high risk of mudslides as the tourist season has just started. On Tuesday, several hundred of them were stranded in Gardiner, Montana, at the park’s north entrance, where the road was partially washed away by flooding. The Yellowstone River, measured at Corwin Springs, north of Gardiner, had reached 4.2 meters Monday. The previous record was more than a century old: 3.5 meters in 1918.

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