A sign warns of extreme heat in Death Valley, California, the United States, July 11, 2021.
Bridget Bennett | Reuters
Stifling heat is forecast to spread across much of the continental US next week, with temperatures rising 10 to 15 degrees above average in areas like the Great Plains and the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.
The expected heat and high humidity comes shortly after a record heatwave that hit triple-digit temperatures in Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia in late June and caused hundreds of heat-related deaths.
Next week’s temperatures will be the result of a heat dome, a powerful, high-pressure air system that descends from the atmosphere, compresses and heats near land, adding to the already muggy summer temperatures.
Heat domes tend to inhibit cloud formation – resulting in a hot, sunny sky with no cloud cover – and are likely to get stronger with climate change.
The June heat wave, also the result of a heat dome, was viewed as a millennium event made all but impossible without human-made climate change, researchers found.
The temperatures and drought conditions this year again triggered more intense forest fires that ignited earlier than usual. In the past few days, more than 80 forest fires have burned in over a dozen states, mostly in the west, which is in an unprecedented drought.
The smoke from the western fires was so heavy that it created fog-filled skies and unhealthy air quality this week as far as New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the earth has already warmed up by more than 1 degree Celsius compared to the pre-industrial level. Last year was the hottest on record and 2021 will almost certainly be one of the 10 hottest years ever recorded.
Research shows that more than a third of global heat-related deaths in warm seasons are attributed to climate change. And heat kills more people than any other weather disaster in the US