The National Weather Service More than 100 million people in the U.S. have been warned this week of extreme heat, with triple-digit temperatures in some states and temperature records broken in many parts of the country.
“Above-normal temperatures will continue for much of the U.S. through the weekend, with a significant portion of the population under heat advisories and warnings,” the agency said.
Heat warnings and advisories have been put in place for 28 states, with central and southern states bearing the brunt of intense heat.
Parts of Oklahoma reached 115F (46C) this week, while parts of Dallas reached 109F (42C).
Emergency Medical Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reports an increase in heat-related emergency calls this year. The city’s Emergency Medical Services Authority said it has received nearly 250 calls this year, which typically come in late summer.
“It’s very concerning,” said the department’s Adam Baluka CNN. “Especially the volume of patients being transported indicates that some of those calls are heat strokes, which can be fatal.”
In the Northeast, where temperatures could exceed 90F (32C), city leaders warned residents to limit outdoor activities during the hottest hours of the day.
Philadelphia declared A “heat health emergency” for Thursday and a “heatline” number set up for residents experiencing extreme heat. Boston has opened community centers and pools as places for residents to cool off.
“It’s clear that a changing climate is a risk to our health,” said Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Wednesday. “I urge everyone to stay calm and safe, and check on your neighbors this week.”
A severe heat warning has been issued for Thursday and Friday in Phoenix, America’s hottest city. Temperatures are forecast to reach 113F (45c) Thursday afternoon and 115F (46C) Friday afternoon. Heat advisories are only issued when temperatures are higher than the average for the year, and July in Phoenix has temperatures above 112F. So far this year, the city has broken or equaled four daytime high records and nine nighttime low records.
The effect of heat is cumulative and the body only begins to recover when the temperature drops below 80F. Climate scientists have warned that Heat waves — sweeping across Europe and Asia this summer — a climate emergency that, if left unchecked, will become more serious and lasting. A study published in May showed that human influence on the climate made a particular heat wave in South Asia 30 times more likely.
Joe Biden spoke on the climate crisis in Somerset, Massachusetts on Wednesday said Global warming is an “emergency” but failed to declare a national emergency, as activists hoped the president would. Such a declaration would allow Biden to block crude oil imports or direct the military to work on renewable energy production. The White House said a formal emergency declaration was “still on the table.”
“This is a real, not figurative, clear and present danger,” Biden said. “The health of our citizens and communities is truly at stake.”
Additional reporting by Nina Lakhani