Early Heatwave Bakes South-Western US, Posing Severe Health Risks

The south-western US is currently experiencing a potentially record-breaking heatwave, which is causing hazardous circumstances well in advance of the summer season. Over 36 million individuals residing in the region stretching from Texas to California are preparing for extremely dangerous temperatures, with certain locations projected to be 30°F higher than the average. Phoenix and Las Vegas are predicted to exceed 110°F, while Death Valley might reach a record-breaking 125°F.

Specialists caution that this may mark the beginning of an unprecedented season, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts temperatures that are higher than the average for the majority of the nation. The unusually high temperatures during the early part of the season place extra pressure on communities that are already at risk, making existing health problems worse and emphasising the immediate requirement for action to address climate change.

Scientists are discovering mounting evidence of the extensive influence of long-term heat exposure, impacting several aspects such as pregnancy outcomes and academic performance. Dr. V Kelly Turner from UCLA highlights the potential dangers of even mild heat, especially when individuals are trying to adapt to unexpected increases in temperature at the beginning of the year.

Phoenix, a city known for its extreme heat, has already recorded 52 fatalities caused by heat-related incidents this year, serving as a sombre reminder of the lethal consequences of high temperatures. Although the city and Maricopa County are known for their expertise in heat adaptation, they are currently facing challenges in coping with the increasing temperatures.

In Mexico, the heatwave has resulted in at least 48 fatalities and has also caused the death of wildlife in certain regions due to the harsh weather.

Community activities in locations such as Chico, California, are crucial as temperatures persistently rise. Organisations such as Safe Space are diligently trying to offer cooling resources to the homeless community, who are especially susceptible during these severe heat occurrences.

Given the possibility that 2024 may exceed 2023 as the warmest year ever recorded, the imperative for climate resilience and adaptation has become even more evident.

Green Time Editorial Body