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HomeUncategorizedWatch out for an 'extreme heat zone' developing in the central U.S.

Watch out for an 'extreme heat zone' developing in the central U.S.

An “extreme heat belt” across the central United States is projected to emerge over the next 30 years, exposing millions of Americans to dangerously high temperatures. That’s according to new research published today by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research organization.

The belt is expected to extend from Texas and Louisiana all the way to Wisconsin. Along the belt, extremely hot days can feel brutal, with temperatures exceeding 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

By 2053, approximately 107.6 million Americans in 1,023 counties will experience extreme heat of this magnitude at least one day a year. By comparison, only 8.1 million residents in 50 counties are likely to experience such extreme heat in 2023, according to a First Street analysis.

“We need to prepare for the inevitable that a quarter of the country will soon be in extreme heat with temperatures over 125°F and the result will be Terrible,” First Street Foundation founder and CEO Matthew Eby said in a press release.

This number, 125 degrees, is a measure of heat and humidity called the Heat Index. It is often referred to as the “feel” of temperature. Any temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit or higher falls into the National Weather Service’s highest heat index category — which indicates “extremely dangerous” when heat stroke is “highly likely.” )

Image: First Street Foundation

Even if you don’t live in the tropics, you can expect warmer temperatures than your community has experienced in the past, studies warn. “Indeed, entire nations face increasing risks associated with heat exposure,” the report said. Of course, that’s not surprising—climate change is pushing weather to extremes around the world.

The thing about this new study is that you can zoom in to see what your home may have to adapt to in the future Variety. Simply plug your address into Fist Street’s “Risk Factors” online search tool. This will get information on how many hot days the site is expected to experience in 30 years. I searched my childhood home in Southern California and found that it may have a heat index above 99 degrees Fahrenheit 11 days a year and only 4 this year. (You will also see wildfire and flood risk when you search for an address on the Risk Factor Tool.)

To figure out how much each location will bake in the future, the researchers first looked at the heat index for the seven hottest days of the year. Then, using datasets from the federal government and other publicly available resources, it built a model to estimate how often the site will experience hot weather 30 years from now.

Miami-Dade County, Florida will see the biggest increase in hottest frequency. Currently, the heat index here is 103 degrees Fahrenheit on seven of the hottest days of the year. According to the First Street study, by 2053, more than 30 days of the year will be hot.



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