Heat wave continues to scorch US

Monday 25th Jul 2011 by theWeather Club

One of the most severe heat waves ever to hit the United States is showing no signs of loosening its fiery grip. In fact it is even extending its influence into Canada where several temperature records were broken in two dozen cities across Ontario and Quebec, including the hottest ever July temperature in Toronto, at 37.9°C.

But it is in the US where the heat wave is wreaking the most havoc. The temperature in New Jersey, reached 42°C on Friday, the highest ever recorded in the city, and the immediate forecast doesn’t offer any relief. Expected temperatures include Washington 40.5°C; Boston 39.5C°; with Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island all hitting 38°C in parts of the state. In Philadelphia bathers at public swimming pools were asked to leave every half hour to allow a new crowd to cool off as thermometers hit of 40°C. New York City also hit 40°C, just a degree short of its all-time high, although with the oppressive humidity, it felt more like 45°C. The heat even lead to voltage was reduced in several neighbourhoods in the city and suburbs to keep underground cables from overheating. Part of the reason for these extreme city centre temperatures is the buildings, pavements and buildings ‘re-radiating’ heat, forecasters have said.

Eli Jacks, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service, told the reporters: “This is an exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure that really has an exceptional scope and duration.” The combination of high heat and humidity make it hard for the human body to cool itself - because sweat does not evaporate efficiently, he added.

While the range and length of this event proving is proving exceptional, heat waves are not unusual in the region. High temperatures are in fact the number one weather-related killer in the US, claiming an average of 162 lives in the country each year. The most severe heat wave in modern North American history was in the Great Depression in 1936. The heat that year was blamed for more than 5,000 deaths in the US and Canada.