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First Heat Wave of the Season Unlikely to Break Records, But Heat Indices Could be Dangerous

By Instant Vantage [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A man seeks relief with a garden hose during a heat wave.

An extended period of near-record heat slammed the southeast over the weekend, and it’s not expected to let up until late this week.  This heat wave isn’t expected to break any records, but it will be hot enough to warrant precautions. 

The good news – if there is any about the heat wave – is that it’s relatively short-lived as heat waves go.  It will last days – not weeks. 

Tim Armstrong is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

"Well, for today [Monday] and Tuesday we’re expecting temperatures here in Wilmington in the mid-90s.  And if you go just a little farther inland, say Whiteville and Elizabethtown, we could be looking at upper 90s.  This is our first heat wave of the year, and you throw in some humidity, it’s going to feel like 100 – 105 degrees out there – so certainly, some brutal weather."

Armstrong is talking about the heat index – which takes humidity into account and measures how it makes the temperature actually feel.  Heat indices between 100 and 105 can be dangerous, and Armstrong says people with chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease, and very young and older people – should plan activities early or late in the day, drink plenty of fluids, and wear light-colored clothing. 

Also, make sure that pets and other animals have plenty of water and easy access to shady, cool areas.  And never leave a pet unattended in a vehicle. 

The National Weather Service predicts a break in the heat by Friday when some cooler air pushes in.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.