I know it’s not Sunday, however, I’m about to get on the soapbox and preach regarding WHY heat watches and warnings are issued in the summer.

Every time a heat alert is issued, we see the typical comments on social media from “But it’s summer,” to “it’s supposed to be hot.” And of course, you occasionally have those people that want to blame politics or push global warming.

Yes, we know – it’s summer. HOWEVER, there is still a point where the heat is too dangerous to be outside. In South Jersey, it’s not 90+ every single day during the summer, and we can go multiple summers without seeing an official 100-degree reading, too. It’s also not excessively humid every day. However, when the temperature or heat index reaches the 95-degree threshold, it becomes challenging to be outside for long durations. This is exactly how heat exhaustion or heat stroke occurs if you do not take the necessary precautions.

The National Weather Service issues a Heat Advisory or Heat Warning across the United States for multiple reasons:

  • To raise public awareness
  • To trigger other actions and regulations such as no evictions or not turning off power
  • Changing outdoor work requirements
  • To alert hospitals and officials to take certain actions to prepare and respond to increased emergency calls
  • Activating programs to check on the elderly and the home-bound
  • Activate cooling centers
  • Designated and donation programs activated for fans and air conditioners

Did you know that Excessive Heat Warnings are also issued in the desert? For example, The National Weather Service in Las Vegas and Pheonix issue an Excessive Heat Warning when the ACTUAL temperature reaches the 110 to 115-degree threshold. Dry heat can also be very deadly.

The National Weather Service Heat Index chart is a PERFECT EXAMPLE of WHY we have heat alerts. As you can see, heat index values in the upper 90s and 100s are in the Extreme Caution or Danger categories, which means the LIKELIHOOD of heat disorders with prolonged exposure or strenuous activity.

So, the next time you see a heat alert issued, be thankful they issue them because they save millions of lives.

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