June 15, 2024

When will the heat wave end? For places like Phoenix and Texas, there is no end in sight


As an unrelenting heat wave enters its 39th consecutive day, millions of people from California to Florida are asking: When will it end?

The long-term forecast looks bleak. For the most part, the extreme heat will continue for a long time, with no end in sight for the rest of the month, but some parts of the country have a brief hope going into the weekend.

Areas from South Texas to Arizona to South Florida had the worst of it and that will not continue. El Paso, Texas, is in the triple digits for 32 days in a row. In Miami, the sea surface temperature is the highest on record, along with the light winds making the heat intense: The heat index has been higher than 100 degrees or more for 37 days in a row, ever. Phoenix will break the record of 18 days in a row at or above 110 degrees today and the streak is likely to continue for at least another week or more.

That longevity combined with dangerously low overnight temperatures in the 90s is taking its toll on human health and infrastructure there. There were 12 confirmed heat-related deaths in Phoenix in the first week of July, for a total of 55 heat-related deaths so far this year, according to data from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

“The heat is getting really hot,” Frank LoVecchio, an emergency room physician at Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix, told CNN. “The hospital has never been this busy when it’s overflowing with a couple of peaks in the COVID pandemic.”

Heat is the number one killer of all extreme weather, data from the National Weather Service shows, and as temperatures continue to rise, scientists expect it to make more people sick.

The air is trapped in a “heat dome” due to a massive stubborn ridge of high pressure, resulting in extreme temperatures as the dome parks over areas.

The heat will remain until a change in the weather pattern occurs and breaks the heat dome or moves it out of the country entirely. That is not expected anytime soon.

Instead, the dangerous heat will continue through this week, with more records broken every day. More than 1,500 heat records have already been broken this month and another 75-plus could fall by the end of the weekend.

The Desert Southwest and Texas will continue to see daytime highs in the triple digits this week. High temperatures along the Gulf Coast and Mid-South will be in the upper 90s for the the rest of the week, with heat indexes as high as 115 degrees. There will be little relief from record-breaking warm low temperatures in the coldest part of the day.

weather three days

Only the Southern Plains and Gulf Coast could see relief in the coming days as the heat dome shifts back to the west and the cold front advances across the area. By the end of the week, many cities will be at least temporarily out of the most intense heat.

Little Rock, Arkansas, will go from a high of 101 today to a high of 87 on Friday. Oklahoma City will also go from triple digits today to the mid-80s on Friday.

This graphic shows the areas that should continue to experience heat through the rest of July.

The heat streak will continue in August in the Desert Southwest and South Florida.

The only hope for the Southwest is that sporadic monsoon rains will bring temporary relief, however, the overall temperature pattern will remain warm. Areas that see no rain may see higher heat indices due to additional moisture and higher humidity coming in from Mexico.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, temperatures in much of the South, including South Florida, and the Southwest will remain above normal, meaning the next two weeks should continue to be warm.

If that is true, the heat wave will be approaching two months in a row, or more than 50 days, over those same areas.

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