The temperatures at night in Texas are a sign that a dangerous heat wave is coming. The fact that this new kind of heat wave happens at night makes it a bigger threat. Understanding and dealing with this issue is important for making effective plans to reduce its effects and protect Texas’s most vulnerable people.
A Midnight Heat Wave in Texas Is K!lling More People
The heat index is making it feel hotter than 110 degrees in some of the region’s most populous cities as a devastating heat wave sweeps across Texas and the South this week, affecting millions of Americans.
However, forecasters are warning of a more dangerous aspect of this heat wave, one that is becoming more common due to the climate crisis: overnight temperatures are not cooling down enough, offering little respite from the oppressive heat — especially for people who do not have access to air conditioning.
In addition, there is a tweet that can serve as an alert for people living in the state of Texas, and it reads as follows:
But forecasters are warning that there is a more dangerous aspect to this heat wave: overnight temperatures are not cooling down enough, offering little reprieve from the oppressive heat — particularly for people who don’t have access to air conditioning. https://t.co/1WESYvQXDx
— Svein Tveitdal (@tveitdal) June 27, 2023
On Monday(26 June 2023), forecasters from the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center warned that “there may be more danger than a typical heat event, due to the longevity of near-record or record-high nighttime lows and elevated heat index readings.”
This statement emphasized the subtle nature of the heat wave that has been sweeping the country this week.
This week, overnight lows are forecast to soar past daytime highs by a wide margin. According to National Weather Service information, around 90 afternoon high-temperature records could be broken across the South, from Texas to the Mississippi Valley and parts of Florida.
But very high evening temperatures will persist as well, with as many as 180 nighttime records at risk of being broken during the next week. The climate problem will cause warmer evenings, scientists have warned. The National Climate Assessment of 2018 found that across the United States, nights are warming more quickly than days.
“We think it’s because as the days grow warmer, there is more moisture in the air that traps the heat,” Lisa Patel, the executive director of the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health, told CNN. “During the day, that moisture reflects the heat, but at night, it traps the heat in.”
The urban heat island effect makes city centers much hotter than their rural environs, thus exacerbating the problem of rising nighttime temperatures. Temperatures in Dallas, for instance, are forecast to remain above 80 degrees Fahrenheit for the next six nights in a row, which would be a June record for the city.
Compared to regions with parks, rivers, and tree-lined streets, urban areas with lots of asphalt, concrete, buildings, and freeways soak up a lot more of the sun’s heat. Kristie Ebi, a climate and health expert from the University of Washington, stated that the stored heat is released back into the air at night when temperatures are expected to drop.
On the warmest summer days, areas with a lot of grass and trees are cooler because they reflect sunlight and produce shade.
“Many cities put together cooling shelters, but people have to know where they are, how to get to them, and what hours they operate,” Ebi told CNN, pointing out that municipal leaders need to rethink urban design to account for climate change.
“It’s going to take a while for trees to grow, but we need tree planting programs focusing on places that are particularly vulnerable — making sure that city planning takes into account that we’re heading into a much warmer future.”
Nearly twice as many days this month, as usual, have reached or exceeded 80 degrees in Houston. Only twice before have such events been recorded in this city.
According to Patel, our bodies should be allowed to cool down at night. However, as the climate continues to change, the likelihood of it happening decreases. A recent study indicated that unless planet-warming pollution is drastically reduced, heat-related mortality might increase by a factor of six by the end of the century due to warmer nighttime temperatures.
Scientists have also expressed concern that people’s capacity to sleep is being disrupted by the climate catastrophe. Last month, researchers showed that for every degree of temperature increase, adults in warmer locations lost an additional 40 minutes of sleep.
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attempt as we might, “we all know what it’s like to try to fall asleep on a hot night — it’s uncomfortable,” Patel added. Sleep deprivation is a common occurrence for us. About two days of sleep each year could be lost by the end of the century, and the situation will be worse for those who cannot afford air conditioning.
According to Patel, heat stress can develop into heat stroke, which is accompanied by confusion, dizziness, and passing out if the body does not have time to recuperate (usually at night).
While this can happen to anybody, the effects are magnified for the elderly, those with preexisting health concerns, and small children, especially babies, according to her. De@th tolls spike during prolonged heat waves because the human body eventually gives up trying to cool down.
“Living through a heat wave during the day can be like running a race,” Patel said. “We need a cool break to recover and recuperate, and when nighttime temperatures don’t drop, we don’t get that critical time we need to relieve the stress on our bodies from being overheated during the day.”
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