Shared from the 8/13/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition

Dangerous heat grips wide stretch of South, Midwest

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Forecasters are warning about days of scorching, dangerous heat across a wide stretch of the U.S. South and Midwest, where the heat index will feel as high as 117 degrees in some spots.

With temperatures around 100 degrees at midday Monday and “feels like” temperatures soaring higher, parts of 13 states were under heat advisories, from Texas, Louisiana and Florida in the South to Missouri and Illinois in the Midwest, the National Weather Service reported.

“It feels like hell is what it feels like,” said Junae Brooks, who runs Junae’s Grocery in Holly Bluff, Mississippi.

Many of her customers were wearing straw hats or keeping cool with wet rags around their necks, she said.

Some of the most oppressive conditions were being felt in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. Tuesday will be about the same, forecasters said, and Wednesday will be only a little cooler.

The temperature hit 100 degrees with aheat index of 106 degrees by midafternoon in Birmingham.

It was expected to feel like 116 degrees in parts of eastern Oklahoma, near Tulsa, on Monday, forecasters said. And parts of Arkansas just west of Memphis, Tenn., could see heat indexes Monday of around 117 degrees.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are among the main threats in those areas. However, an approaching cool front should help ease the intense heat by Wednesday.

In Alabama and Tennessee, high school football coaches were adjusting practice schedules Monday and Tuesday, with some moving the workouts indoors and others conducting training in the early morning or evening, The Tennessean reported .

Cooling stations were open in several cities, including Tulsa, Memphis, and Little Rock, Ark., officials said.

Historically, cities such as Austin; Baton Rouge, La.; Jackson, Miss.; and Tallahassee, Fla, experience less than a week’s worth of days each year when the heat index is over 105 degrees.

If no action is taken to stop climate change, the number of days when it’s that hot will soar in those cities and others, according to a recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Killer Heat in the United States.” By mid-century, Austin would see 59 days of such extreme heat in an average year. The number of days would increase to 57 in Baton Rouge; 52 in Jackson; and 50 in Tallahassee.

Southern states will feel the brunt of increasingly dangerous heat in coming years, said Astrid Caldas, one of the study’s authors.

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