- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2020

Weather forecasters are warning of extreme temperatures and high humidity, a recipe for potentially deadly heat, this holiday weekend in Central and Southern states.

Heat advisories are in effect for millions of Americans in south-central states, including Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

“It’s going to be hot across Texas with a lot of sunshine on Friday. In eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri down into Louisiana and Mississippi, it’s going to be very warm and humid. There’s going to be thunderstorms in the afternoon hours,” said Paul Walker, a senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.

Some areas are expected to reach well into the 90s and push past the 100 degree mark. Temperatures could approach record levels in places like Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky, Mr. Walker said.

High temperatures and humidity are expected in the Southern and Central Plains and the Mississippi Valley, while temperatures in the 90s are forecast in the upper Midwest and interior Northeast through Friday.

Due to high temperatures over the holiday weekend, meteorologists are urging people to take precautions to protect themselves against the heat.

“The body’s way to cool itself is through sweating. If the humidity is high, the body isn’t able to sweat as much and that’s why the body isn’t able to cool itself whenever you have high heat and high humidity,” said Mr. Walker, noting that moisture can’t evaporate off the body.

He said his biggest area of concern for the weekend is along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana across southern Mississippi and southern Alabama into northern Georgia and Florida due to active showers, thunderstorms and warm temperatures.

For the July 4 weekend, Mr. Walker recommends people limit their time outdoors or in the sun, drink lots of water and stay away from alcoholic beverages (or drink in moderation) since they dehydrate the body.

As heat safety tips, the National Weather Service recommends people move outdoor work to morning or evening hours, wear lightweight clothing and sunscreen if outdoors, and not to leave pets, children or older people inside a parked vehicle.

Last year, 63 people in the U.S. died from heat-related illness, which is lower than the 10-year average of 103 deaths from 2010 to 2019, weather service data shows.

In the Northeast, the weather service anticipates scattered showers and thunderstorms over the next couple of days. Mr. Walker noted Maryland and Virginia back across into the Ohio Valley are expected to be generally dry, but with warm to hot conditions.

It will be generally dry in the Northwest aside from a stray shower in north Washington and a scattered thunderstorm over northern Rockies, stretching into Montana and Idaho, according to Mr. Walker. The Southwest is expected to be dry although there will be scattered afternoon thunderstorms over portions of Arizona into New Mexico and parts of Colorado.

He said an area of concern for severe weather would be the Dakotas Friday afternoon, which may spread into western Minnesota during the evening.

In the central and eastern U.S., showers and thunderstorms are expected with flash flooding and severe weather kicking off in the Northern Plains Friday, weather service forecasts. Some rainfall and storms are expected to cross into the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Southeast.

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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