Relentless heat wave threatens eastern US with record temperatures through the weekend

Updated

Tens of millions of people across the eastern U.S. face relentlessly high temperatures again on Friday as a dayslong heat dome remains parked over the region through the weekend when sweltering conditions could break more records and drive afternoon highs into triple digits.

For a large swath of the country from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic region, temperatures will generally be in the mid-90s Friday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. Over the weekend, temperatures will rise into the upper 90s to 100 on Saturday and Sunday in the mid-Atlantic region, triggering advisories across several major cities.

Across northern Indiana and Pittsburgh, heat indices, or "feels like" temperatures, are expected to reach 102 and 110 degrees, respectively. Triple-digit heat indices were also forecast for parts of Ohio, where officials suspect multiple deaths were related to the heat wave and emergency rooms saw spikes in heat-related illnesses. Further east, heat indices in New York City were projected to reach highs of 95 to 100, while afternoon highs in Baltimore will feel like 110 degrees this weekend.

Notably, Washington, D.C., is projected to reach over 101 degrees on Sunday, which would surpass the previous record set in the 1980s and be the first time the district reaches triple digits since 2016, according to AccuWeather.

Meteorologists blame the searing temperatures on a heat dome, which occurs when a high-pressure system traps air near the ground and warms it up. The heat dome settled over the Midwest and Northeast early this week and has broken dozens of daily temperature and heat index records and disrupted the lives of millions.

The searing heat on Friday and this weekend will not be limited to the Midwest and Northeast. Most of California was under heart advisories as temperatures were forecast to soar to the high 90s and, in some places, 100 degrees. In Arizona, Texas, Louisiana and Florida, heat indices upwards of 100 degrees were forecast.

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Record-breaking heat in Hartford, Connecticut: 'It's just brutal'

Justin Firmin said the heat this week has “felt dangerous.”

Firmin, 33, owns a landscaping company in Hartford, Connecticut, which hit a record afternoon high of 98 degrees on Thursday and remains under a heat advisory through the weekend. Firmin and his employees have had to exercise extra caution this week, taking frequent breaks in their cars with the air conditioning on blast to make sure they "don’t pass out,” he said.

“You start in the morning when it’s not too bad but by one o’clock it’s just brutal,” Firmin said.

Meanwhile, cooling companies have been inundated with calls for service. Ivana DiGrazia, who works at an HVAC company in Hartford, said the front desk has received about 100 calls for service each day this week, typical for the hottest stretches of summer, she said.

With such high temperatures, the company turned down clients whose systems require workers to venture into the attic.

“It’s just way too hot outside for that,” DiGrazia said, adding that it seems the most intense summer weather is arriving very early this year. “Usually, we have heat waves in August, so to experience it now ... It's a lot.”

Suspected heat-related deaths in Ohio, uptick in hospitalizations

In the Cincinnati area, health officials suspect at least some deaths this week are connected to the heat wave as Columbus hospitals saw an uptick in emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses.

Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco said while heat-related deaths are suspected, autopsies and lab tests have not been completed.

"We have 19 autopsies we're in the middle of doing, and yes, some of those are probably going to be related to heat," Sammarco told The Cincinnati Enquirer, part of the USA TODAY Network. "Some people have been found in areas where the ambient temperature is significantly higher and at dangerous levels."

Season pass holders cool off at the Water Works Family Aquatic Center amidst 92 degree heat, Monday, June 17, 2024, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
Season pass holders cool off at the Water Works Family Aquatic Center amidst 92 degree heat, Monday, June 17, 2024, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Meanwhile, at least 37 heat-related illnesses have been reported across Columbus emergency rooms, according to the city's public health department. A spokesperson for the Franklin County Coroner told The Columbus Dispatch that no heat-related deaths have been reported.

Franklin County Coroner spokesperson Kelli Newman said the spike is above the norm for Columbus, but comparable to other heat waves Columbus has experienced.

Monday saw 10 visits to emergency rooms for heat-related illnesses, which Newman said was above average – during a few hot days in May, eight people per day were seen with heat-related illness, for example. On Tuesday, that number jumped to 16 people. On Wednesday, when many residents had the day off in celebration of Juneteenth, 11 emergency room visits were reported.

– Elizabeth B. Kim, Cincinnati Enquirer; Samantha Hendrickson, Bailey Gallion, Columbus Dispatch

Most of California under heat advisories

While the heat dome bears down on the Northeast this weekend, millions of Californians may face triple-digit temperatures, the weather service said.

Heat advisories across a vast stretch of the state, from San Diego up through the Central Valley and into Sacramento, warn of highs in the 90s on Friday and afternoon peaks in the 100s on Saturday and Sunday, according to the weather service. The searing heat will impact several major cities including Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.

"Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors," the weather service warned.

The heat comes as officials continue to battle wildfires that have scorched thousands of acres of land across the state and threatened world-famous vineyards.

Wildfires kill two in New Mexico

Two wildfires in New Mexico that killed two people, consumed more than 23,000 acres and forced thousands to evacuate were slowed down by rainy weather, local officials say, as the area faces surging flood waters and water rescues are ongoing.

Two people were killed in the blazes – Patrick Pearson, a 60-year-old father and country musician who was found by the side of the road near a local motel, and an unidentified person found in a burned vehicle.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the fires were "among the most devastating fires in New Mexico's history" at a news conference on Wednesday.

After a four-day battle with the South Fork Fire and the Salt Fire, authorities said a bout of rain sapped some of the fires' momentum.

"There's still fire out there. There's still smoke. It's going to move, but over the next two to three days, we expect very little lateral movement, very little spread," Arthur Gonzales, a fire behavior analyst for Southwest Area Incident Management Team #5, said at a community meeting posted to Facebook on Thursday. Still, the two fires were 0% contained, according to an update posted that evening.

– Cybele Mayes-Osterman, USA TODAY

A workers looks through the burned out remains of an auto repair shop that was near the start of the Post Fire on June 17, 2024. The Post Fire broke out Saturday afternoon along Interstate 5 in Gorman, Calif. a community about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
A workers looks through the burned out remains of an auto repair shop that was near the start of the Post Fire on June 17, 2024. The Post Fire broke out Saturday afternoon along Interstate 5 in Gorman, Calif. a community about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Cold front, thunderstorms bring relief to some

A cold front is projected to push down over New England and the Great Lakes by the late weekend, bringing some much-needed relief to some, according to AccuWeather.

Cooler temperatures, rain and lower humidity levels will arrive with the cold front, which could drop temperatures in some places to the 70s and low 80s. With the system arrives another threat: Thunderstorms.

While excessive or frequent rain won't fall across much of the Northeast, some areas will be exceptions and could experience flash floods, AccuWeather said. The storms are projected to barrel down into parts of New England and as well as the mid-Atlantic starting Saturday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Heat wave threatens more record-breaking temperatures this weekend

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