HOUSTON (AP) — Searing temperatures swept much of the central U.S. on Sunday, causing misery from the Gulf of Mexico to nearly the Great Lakes.
Record temperatures were recorded in Texas and other states. People have been told to drink extra water when mowing the lawn or exercising outdoors and to check on neighbors to make sure air conditioning is available.
“These high temperatures can impact our friends, families and neighbors who may be living alone, especially if they limit their use of air conditioning,” said Sarah Russell, commissioner of the St. Louis Emergency Management Agency, in a statement. “We urge everyone to stop and visit their loved ones to ensure they are healthy and well during this extreme heat.”
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is set to hit 43.3C (110F) on Sunday after hitting 42.2C (108F) on Saturday, said Sarah Barnes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The record value for this data was 107 F (41.7 C) in 2011.
Barnes said the area doesn’t cool enough at night.
“That’s really going to contribute to an increased risk of heat-related illness,” Barnes said on Sunday. “That’s the main concern when it comes to people and heat.”
The heatwave wreaking havoc this weekend is just the latest punishment for the US this year.
Scientists have long warned that climate change, driven by fossil fuel burning, deforestation and certain agricultural practices, will result in more and longer-lasting episodes of extreme weather, including hotter temperatures.
The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for parts of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska on Sunday. Heat warnings or surveillance were also in place in parts of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and South Dakota.
Houston was expected to amplify its ongoing run of high temperatures of 100 F (38 C) or more on Sunday. As of Saturday, Houston has had a 21-day high of at least 100 F. Sunday’s high should be around 41 F.
The temperature hit a record 104 F (40 C) in Jackson, Mississippi, on Saturday as people walked between indoor and outdoor events at the Mississippi Book Festival. Volunteers distributed chilled water and people used handheld fans while chatting with authors and buying books in large tents in front of the State Capitol.
The sweltering Texas heat overwhelmed people attending the new student orientation at Prairie View A&M University, 48 miles (77 kilometers) northwest of Houston. University officials said they would review operations after 38 students were hospitalized Friday night after suffering from heat-related illnesses, including dehydration. One student was helicoptered to a hospital in nearby College Station, while 37 were taken to other facilities by ambulance, Waller County emergency services chief Rhonda Getschman said said KBTX.
“In this Texas heat, it’s very easy to overheat. We strongly encourage everyone to stay indoors as much as possible,” Getschman said.
High temperatures in the upper 90s are expected across much of Iowa on Sunday and Monday, followed by three days where readings are likely to exceed 100F (37.8C).
The heat was a concern Sunday as thousands were expected for the final day of the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. In a Facebook post, those responsible for the trade fair urged visitors to visit air-conditioned buildings, take regular breaks and drink enough fluids.
Forecasters were expecting high temperatures of 37.2C to 39.4C in St. Louis through Friday, and the heat is only part of the problem: Excessive humidity will lead to a heat index of up to 46.1C. every day. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that if the forecast comes true, it will be the worst hot spell in St. Louis since August 2014, when temperatures soared to about 95 F (35 C) for seven days.
Similar heat is expected throughout the week in Little Rock, Arkansas, prompting the community to open several cooling centers for people living on the streets or without air conditioning.
Last month, the Phoenix area experienced 31 days of record-breaking daily highs of 110 F (43.4 C) or more. The historical heat began blasting the region that stretched from Texas through New Mexico and Arizona to the California desert in June. The previous record was 18 consecutive days in 1974. In July, the continental United States set a record Record for night heatMeteorologists said this provided little relief from the daytime heat for people, animals, plants and the power grid.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report only 600 to 700 heat deaths annually in the United States, but experts say this is the case mishmash of ways The fact that more than 3,000 counties calculate heat deaths means we don’t really know how many people die each year in the United States.
Associated Press writers Jim Salter in St. Louis, Jackie Quinn in Washington, and Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi, contributed to this report.