Extreme Temperature Diary-August 23rd, 2019/New Climate Central Heat Index Trends

Friday August 23rd… Dear Diary. The main purpose of this ongoing blog will be to track United States extreme or record temperatures related to climate change. Any reports I see of ETs will be listed below the main topic of the day. I’ll refer to extreme or record temperatures as ETs (not extraterrestrials).😉

New Climate Central Heat Index Trends

Every August as high school athletes begin outdoor practice after the summer break they encounter and interact with Georgia heat where I live. This is especially true for football players practicing in hot pads. Occasionally I will see sad news reports such as this:

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/atlanta-mom-testifies-before-lawmakers-after-son-s-heat-related-death

It stands to reason that as global warming starts to ramp up with summer heat lasting well into the fall parents, schools, and coaches will need to be on extra guard against the health dangers of excess heat.

Climate Central is well aware of this having just released new findings on heat index trends, which I will now share as today’s main topic:

https://climatecentral.org/gallery/graphics/danger-for-sports-days-with-a-90f-heat-index

Danger for Sports: Days with a 90°F+ heat index

  • Published: August 21st, 2019

Outdoor sports are profoundly affected by heat—the leading cause of death or disability among high school athletes. Of course, extreme heat affects all levels of sports, from youth and amateur leagues to the collegiate and professional levels. 64 football players have died from heat since 1995, and tennis players have collapsed from triple-digit temperatures at recent Australian and U.S. Open tournaments. And this summer, the New York City Triathlon and other events were cancelled due to dangerous heat. The threat spikes at high levels of heat and relative humidity—the two variables that are used to determine the National Weather Service’s heat index. A new Climate Central report finds an increase in days with a dangerous heat index, heightening health risks for outdoor activities. 

Danger for Sports: Days with a 90°F+ heat index
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Danger for Sports: Days with a 90°F+ heat index

  • Published: August 21st, 2019

Outdoor sports are profoundly affected by heat—the leading cause of death or disability among high school athletes. Of course, extreme heat affects all levels of sports, from youth and amateur leagues to the collegiate and professional levels. 64 football players have died from heat since 1995, and tennis players have collapsed from triple-digit temperatures at recent Australian and U.S. Open tournaments. And this summer, the New York City Triathlon and other events were cancelled due to dangerous heat. The threat spikes at high levels of heat and relative humidity—the two variables that are used to determine the National Weather Service’s heat index. A new Climate Central report finds an increase in days with a dangerous heat index, heightening health risks for outdoor activities. 

Extreme Heat Index Impacting Outdoor Sports

The report used gridMET temperature and humidity data to examine the annual number of days with an extreme heat index, which “feels like” 90°F or above. Since 1979 (when the dataset began), that annual number has trended upward in 83% of the 239 contiguous U.S. cities analyzed. McAllen, Texas has observed the highest increase with 32 days, followed by Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana (24 days). The top 18 cities are all in the Southeast, where high heat and humidity are growing threats. 

global map records temps

Many locations are also experiencing more “danger days”—defined by the NWS as a heat index at 105°F or higher—which make “heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely, and heat stroke possible.” This index can trigger Excessive Heat Warnings from the NWS, though criteria depend on a region’s typical heat. While danger days are rare, they are trending upward in 106 of the cities analyzed. Eleven southern locations have recorded an increase of four or more annual danger days since 1979, led by McAllen and three other Texas cities. 

global map records temps

Heat-driven health issues are projected to worsen—especially if human-caused climate change continues unabated. According to a 2016 Climate Central report, many of Florida’s cities could suffer more than 100 danger days per year by 2050. Nationwide, these danger days could triple by 2050 without climate action, per an extensive report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. To limit heat illnesses in sports, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association offers handouts and recommendations, from mandating rest breaks to educating coaches and identifying vulnerable individuals. The Korey Stringer Institute is actively researching and advancing this issue as well. 

global map records temps

METHODOLOGY: The daily maximum temperature and minimum relative humidity was assessed from 1979 to 2018 at Climate Central’s 239 contiguous U.S. stations, using the gridMET modeled dataset and based on the findings of Dahl, et al. 2019. Heat index temperatures were calculated using the National Weather Service heat index algorithms. The change in the number of 90°F+ and 105°F+ days are based on linear regression. Local graphics were not produced for Eureka and Monterey, California or Flagstaff, Arizona due to a lack of daily heat indices of 90°F or above during the study period.

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My only advise here is that anyone, whether they be an athlete or anybody else trying to be active in the outdoors during the hotter times of the year, be careful very careful. Hydration is essential. I do hope that this posted information can save lives. That is the whole point about warning all about the perils of the climate crisis.

Here is more climate and weather news from Friday:

(As usual, this will be a fluid post in which more information gets added during the day as it crosses my radar, crediting all who have put it on-line. Items will be archived on this site for posterity. In most instances click on the pictures of each tweet to see each article.)

(If you like these posts and my work please contribute via the PayPal widget, which has recently been added to this site. Thanks in advance for any support.) 

Guy Walton- “The Climate Guy”

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