Record-high temperatures impact more than 100 million Americans
MIAMI (NewsNation) — Relentless heat has affected more than 100 million Americans. The record-setting temperatures have strained power grids and shut down businesses that can’t keep their workers cool, officials across the country said.
To make matters worse, forecasters said some of the warmest areas are only going to get hotter this week.
The high in Miami on Monday is estimated to reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and that doesn’t even factor in the “feels like” temperature. But even those temperatures pale in comparison to other parts of the country.
On Sunday, Phoenix, Arizona, hit 114 F, the 17th consecutive day of 110 degrees or higher. The record is 18 days, set in June 1974. Phoenix is on track to break that record on Tuesday, said Gabriel Lojero, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
In Death Valley, California, temperatures hit 128 F, putting a sizzling exclamation point on a record warm summer that is baking nearly the entire globe by flirting with some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded, meteorologists said.
The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 134 F in July 1913 at Furnace Creek, said Randy Ceverny of the World Meteorological Organization, the body recognized as keeper of world records. Temperatures at or above 130 F have only been recorded on Earth a handful of times, mostly in Death Valley.
“With global warming, such temperatures are becoming more and more likely to occur,” Ceverny, the World Meteorological Organization’s records coordinator, said in an email. “Long-term: Global warming is causing higher and more frequent temperature extremes. Short-term: This particular weekend is being driven by a very, very strong upper-level ridge of high pressure over the Western U.S.”
Construction and agriculture have been impacted the most. Employees have constantly been exposed to dangerous heat.
Then, there’s the tourism industry. Travelers have been reluctant to go outside in the elements and spend their money.
“It feels like it’s nearly boiling. It’s not warm; it is hot,” a summer traveler said.
In Georgia, the extreme weather took a huge bite out of this year’s peach crop.
Farmers lost about 90% of all peaches statewide. Georgia peach farmer Chris Eckerts said two late-spring frosts and a February heat wave were to blame. And people have noticed while grocery shopping.
“You can already see higher prices for peaches in the grocery store. Getting homegrown peaches in the Midwest is going to be hard as well,” Eckerts said.
Peach farmers are not alone. Apple orchards in the Northeast have been impacted by the extreme weather this year as well.
Then there’s wine country in California.
“It’s been difficult during these tough growing seasons whether it’d be too much rain or too hot,” Tom Davies, the president of V. Sattui Winery, said. “And so we’re just learning to be able to farm a little bit better in harmony with what Mother Nature is kind of dealing us.”
Triple-digit temperatures have cost Americans in more ways than one.
An energy association estimates home energy bills will go up nearly 12% compared to last summer.
“This is definitely a worldwide phenomenon when it comes to changing weather patterns, prediction and agricultural stability,” University of New Haven emergency management expert Rachel Dowty Beech said.
Residents in the western U.S. have long been accustomed to extreme temperatures, and the heat appeared to prompt minimal disruptions in California over the weekend.
Local governments opened cooling centers for people without access to air conditioning to stay cool. The heat forced officials to cancel horse racing at the opening weekend of the California State Fair as officials urged fair-goers to stay hydrated and seek refuge inside one of the seven air-conditioned buildings.
The heat wave is just one part of the extreme weather hitting the U.S. over the weekend. Five people died in Pennsylvania on Saturday when heavy rains caused a sudden flash flood that swept away multiple cars. A 9-month-old boy and a 2-year-old girl remained missing. In Vermont, authorities were concerned about landslides as rain continued after days of flooding.