Texas has been experiencing absolutely scorching temperatures the past two weeks as swaths of the American South continue to break dozens of heat records, with 110 million Americans living in regions under a heat alert as of Jun. 28.
And while Texas is used to the heat, this brutal string of hot days is certainly not normal. At least 14 people have been confirmed dead because of the heat wave, eleven of whom were in Webb County, Texas.
“We don’t see this in our county,” Dr. Corinne Stern, who serves as Webb County’s medical examiner, said of the heat in a press conference. “Webb County knows heat. And I think our county was caught a little off guard … These are unprecedented temperatures here due to this dome of high pressure.”
A dangerous heat wave has been intensifying across the central/southern U.S. and Mexico.— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) June 27, 2023
This #TimelapseTuesday, we're looking at surface air temperatures from May 1–June 25, 2023 via @NOAA's Global Forecast System model, which utilizes data from @NOAA's JPSS satellites. pic.twitter.com/eLkAM1JegM
The “dome” that Dr. Stern referred to is also called a “heat dome,” which refers to areas of high pressure that trap hot air over a region. Basically, the high-pressure area acts as a lid, trapping the heat and stopping it from escaping.
“There’s no break,” weather historian Christopher C. Burt told CNN. “Looking at the models, this heat dome over Texas looks like it’s going to be persistent, shifting a little bit to the east or to the west from day to day, but I imagine it’s going to be just blazing for the rest of the month.”
Luckily, there are several ways for everyone to stay safe while this heat dome hovers above the South.
How to stay safe
Among the more straightforward strategies to beat the heat are staying regularly hydrated and avoiding the outdoors whenever possible. Try keeping strenuous activities, like exercise, to a minimum when your area is dealing with extreme heat is a good idea too.
If the heat is unbearable, dunking your feet in cold water can quickly cool you off, dilating blood vessels near your skin’s surface and allowing body heat to dissipate quickly.
Next, stay away from alcoholic beverages and heavy or hot meals.
Finally, always make sure that you check in with your family, friends, and neighbors. Keeping close tabs on your community can help ensure everyone stays safe during extreme heat.
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