Sweltering heat stifles a third of US population, severe storms leave thousands in the dark
- Excessive heat warnings, watches and advisories were issued for more than 100 million people as temperatures surged 10 to 20 degrees above normal
- Forecasters predict another heatwave next week across much of central and southern US with temperatures set to soar above 100 degrees
Dangerous, record-setting heat had nearly one-third of the US population in its grip on Tuesday – from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast – on the cusp of summer’s official arrival.
The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings, watches and heat advisories for more than 100 million people as temperatures were expected to surge 10 to 20 degrees above normal from the Plains, the Midwest and some areas along the East Coast, according to AccuWeather.
People living in Indiana – where temperatures in Indianapolis were forecast to hit a high of 98 degrees – have ramped up the air conditioning to get through the heat, prompting concerns of blackouts among energy suppliers.
Meanwhile, severe rain and storms in West Michigan and Ohio knocked out power late Monday into Tuesday In Ohio, leaving thousands without electricity. Now, much of Michigan has to contend with a heat index hovering near 105, according to the weather service.
It’s a similar case for Chicago, where a severe thunderstorm prompted tornado warnings and power outages Monday evening amid gusts close to 84mph. The city will next contend with sweltering heat approaching the triple digits.
The weather service predicts severe thunderstorms will hit parts of the Upper Midwest on Wednesday. Severe weather already left its mark on parts of the US this week, and more is on the way.
Milwaukee, like much of the Midwest, saw heavy rains and damaging winds after strong thunderstorms swept through on Monday. Authorities say three people – two adults and an 11-year-old child – were swept away in a drainage ditch Monday night and were still missing.
NOAA’s Storm Prediction Centre showed a slight risk of severe storms for portions of the northern Plains, Midwest, parts of the Great Lakes and the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday. Thunderstorms, winds and large hail were expected to sweep through the northern Red River Valley areas of northwestern Minnesota and northeastern North Dakota, along with parts of the mid-Atlantic and mid-Missouri Valley, according to the Storm Prediction Centre.
Baltimore, Washington and Charlotte, North Carolina, all faced a slight risk of severe storms on Tuesday, forecasters said. Isolated thunderstorms were expected from South Carolina into Maryland from the moist and potentially unstable air.
“Today or even tomorrow, the severe threat is mainly the Midwest,” said Tyler Roys, an AccuWeather senior meteorologist. “(Tuesday), it’s geared toward the northern parts of the Plains, Iowa and Minnesota where we could see some severe storms.”
Nearly 48 million people were in areas under excessive heat warnings from the weather service. Pockets across the country were expected to reach temperatures of 100 degrees or more, Roys said, and the corridor between Augusta, Georgia, to Raleigh, North Carolina, was forecast to hit 100 to 105 degrees.
Heat and high humidity stemming from a dome of high pressure are to blame, forecasters said.
Temperatures in the Chicago suburbs have a better chance of reaching 100 degrees than the city itself, said Roys, where the high is expected to hit 93 following Monday’s possible tornado threat. Iowa City, the Minneapolis-St. Paul region and parts of West Texas, southeastern New Mexico and Oklahoma’s panhandle also were forecast to reach triple digits.
Meanwhile, customers reeling from the power outages that struck the Great Lakes region amid Monday’s severe weather had to cope with no air conditioning in Tuesday’s sweltering heat as crews worked to restore electricity. More than 330,000 Ohioans were without power, according to PowerOutage.us, and about half the state was under an excessive heat warning.
The warning extended to parts of Indiana and Kentucky as the weather service forecast extreme heat and humidity to push heat index values up to 109 degrees.
When will the heatwave end? It will linger into the end of the week, AccuWeather said, but the extremity of the heat will begin to temper somewhat from midweek onwards.
“Finally, by late in the week, a cold front will trim back the heat and bring some relief to portions of the Midwest and Great Lakes,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
However, forecasters were predicting that yet another heatwave was likely next week across much of the central and southern US where temperatures are forecast to soar above 100 degrees from Texas to the Carolinas.