Tag Archives: weather

New Scientist special about what we do/don't know about Climate change

Climate change: What we do – and don’t – know – New Scientist.

(Image: Maria Stenzel)

There is much we do not understand about Earth’s climate. That is hardly surprising, given the complex interplay of physical, chemical and biological processes that determines what happens on our planet’s surface and in its atmosphere.

Despite this, we can be certain about some things. For a start, the planet is warming, and human activity is largely responsible. But how much is Earth on course to warm by? What will the global and local effects be? How will it affect our lives?Watch movie online A Cure for Wellness (2017)

In these articles, Michael Le Page sifts through the evidence to provide a brief guide to what we currently do – and don’t – know about the planet’s most burning issue.

KNOW

Greenhouse gases are warming the planet

From melting glaciers and earlier springs to advancing treelines and changing animal ranges, many lines of evidence back up what thermometers tell us
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DON’T KNOW

How high greenhouse gas levels will rise

We can’t say how much Earth will warm over the coming years unless we know how much more greenhouse gas will end up in the atmosphere
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KNOW

Other pollutants are cooling the planet

We pump all kinds of substances into the atmosphere. Some of them reflect the sun’s heat back into space and so cool things down
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DON’T KNOW

How great our cooling effects are

Pollutants that form minute droplets in the atmosphere have horrendously complex effects – so it’s far from certain what they mean for global warming
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KNOW

The planet is going to get a lot hotter

Extra carbon dioxide means a warmer world – and then positive feedback effects from things like water vapour and ice loss will make it warmer still
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DON’T KNOW

Just how much hotter things will get

On current trends the temperature rise could exceed 4 °C as early as the 2060s. But even that could be an underestimate
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DON’T KNOW

How things will change in each region

Which regions are going to turn into tropical paradises? Which into unbearably humid hellholes? It would be useful to know. Unfortunately, we don’t
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KNOW

Sea level is going to rise many metres

Studies of past climate indicate each 1 °C rise in the global mean temperature eventually leads to a 20-metre rise in sea level
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DON’T KNOW

How quickly sea level will rise

Do we have time to get temperatures back down before seas rise by more than a few metres? We have little clue how much room we have for manoeuvre
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DON’T KNOW

How serious the threat to life is

The problem for the plants, animals and people living today is that they and we have adapted to the unusually stable climate of the past few thousand years
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KNOW

There will be more floods and droughts

Warm air holds more moisture. This means more rain or snow overall, and more intense rain or snowfall on average
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DON’T KNOW

Will there be more hurricanes and the like?

A wetter atmosphere will provide more of the fuel that powers extreme events like hurricanes, but it is not clear how often this fuel will be ignited
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DON’T KNOW

If and when tipping points will come

The Amazon could become grassland. Massive amounts of methane could be released from undersea hydrates. And we may not realise in time to do anything about it
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Crop scientists now fret about heat not just water

NewsDaily: Crop scientists now fret about heat not just water.

By Christine StebbinsPosted 2011/10/24 at 10:49 am EDT

CHICAGO, Oct. 24, 2011 (Reuters) — Crop scientists in the United States, the world’s largest food exporter, are pondering an odd question: could the danger of global warming really be the heat?

Haze from forest fires engulfs La Paz city, August 23, 2010. REUTERS/David Mercado

For years, as scientists have assembled data on climate change and pointed with concern at melting glaciers and other visible changes in the life-giving water cycle, the impact on seasonal rains and irrigation has worried crop watchers most.

What would breadbaskets like the U.S. Midwest, the Central Asian steppes, the north China Plain or Argentine and Brazilian crop lands be like without normal rains or water tables?

Those were seen as longer-term issues of climate change.

But scientists now wonder if a more immediate issue is an unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures being seen in crop belts around the world.

Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables.

“We don’t grow tomatoes in the deep South in the summer. Pollination fails,” said Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida.

The same goes for snap beans which can no longer be grown in Florida during the summer, he added.

“As temperatures rise we are going to have trouble maintaining the yields of crops that we already have,” said Gerald Nelson, an economist with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) who is leading a global project initially funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to identify new crop varieties adapted to climate change.

“When I go around the world, people are much less skeptical, much more concerned about climate change,” said David Lobell, a Stanford University agricultural scientist.

Lobell was one of three authors of a much-discussed 2011 climate study of world corn, wheat, soybean and rice yields over the last three decades (1980-2008). It concluded that heat, not rainfall, was affecting yields the most.

“The magnitude of recent temperature trends is larger than those for precipitation in most situations,” the study said.

“We took a pretty conservative approach and still found sizable impacts. They certainly are happening already and not just something that will or might happen in the future,” Lobell told Reuters in an interview.

CONCERNS GROWING

Scientists at an annual meeting of U.S. agronomists last week in San Antonio said the focus was climate change.

“Its impact on agriculture systems, impacts on crops, mitigation strategies with soil management — a whole range of questions was being asked about climate change,” said Jerry Hatfield, Laboratory Director at the National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

“The biggest thing is high night-time temperatures have a negative impact on yield,” Hatfield added, noting that the heat affects evaporation and the life process of the crops.

“One of the consequences of rising temperatures … is to compress the life cycle of that plant. The other key consequence is that when the atmosphere gets warmer the atmospheric demand for water increases,” Hatfield said.

“These are simple things that can occur and have tremendous consequences on our ability to produce a stable supply of food or feed or fiber,” he said.

Boote at the University of Florida found that rice and sorghum plants failed to produce grain, something he calls “pollen viability,” when the average 24-hour temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius). That equates to highs of 104 F during the day and 86 F at night, he said.

The global seed industry has set a high bar to boost crop yields by 2050 to feed a hungry world. Scientists said that the impact of heat on plant growth needs more focus and study.

“If you look at a lot of crop insurance claims, farmers say it is the lack of water that caused the plant to die,” said Wolfram Schlenker, assistant professor at Columbia University.

“But I think it’s basically different sides of the same coin because the water requirement of the plant increases tremendously if it’s hot,” he said.

“The private sector understands the threats coming from climate change and have significant research programs in regards to drought tolerance. They focus less on higher temperatures, but that’s a tougher challenge,” Nelson said.

“We are responding with a number of initatives…the primary one is focusing on drought tolerance,” said John Soper, vice president in charge of global seed development for DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred, a top U.S. seed producer.

Pioneer launched a conventionally bred drought-tolerant corn hybrid seed in the western U.S. Corn Belt this spring, selected for its yield advantage over other varieties.

“We have some early results in from Texas that show that is exactly how they are behaving. They currently have a 6 percent advantage over normal products in those drought zones,” Soper said.

Roy Steiner, deputy director for agricultural development for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said the foundation is focused on current agricultural effects of climate change.

“It’s amazing that there are still people who think that it’s not changing. Everywhere we go we’re seeing greater variability, the rains are changing and the timing of the rains is creating a lot more vulnerability,” Steiner said.

“Agriculture is one of those things that needs long-term planning, and we are very short-cycled thinking,” he said. “There are going to be some real shocks to the system. Climate is the biggest challenge. Demand is not going away.”

Forensic Meteorology Becomes New Growth Industry as Weather-Related Damage Intensifies

CSI: Mother Nature–Forensic Meteorology a New Growth Industry as Weather-Related Damage Intensifies: Scientific American.

WEATHER-DAMAGE LIABILITY?: Trees can be helpful to forensic meteorologists in solving cases. Image: Keegan Mullaney/Flickr

As Irene battered the East Coast two weeks ago, Frank Lombardo knew that only after the rain and wind stopped and the floods receded, would his work begin.

That’s because as a forensic meteorologist, Lombardo is often called on to consult on legal and insurance cases resulting from violent storms. His job, and that of any forensic meteorologist, is to reconstruct the weather conditions that occurred at a specific time and location in question by retrieving and analyzing archived atmospheric data and re-creating a time line of meteorological events.

“As soon as something happens…whether there’s a catastrophic event or a minor localized event, forensic meteorologists understand things will quiet down, but in a few years from now, it will get into the courts,” says Lombardo, president of WeatherWorks, Inc. The Hackettstown, N.J.–based company provides meteorological expertise to public and private sector organizations, including the media.

Described as a combination of science, art and interpretation, forensic meteorology mirrors the work that detectives do to solve crimes. Cases may involve whether lightning sparked a fire or, if someone slips and falls, whether ice on a property was to blame. Data comes from various sources, including observations, weather stations at airports, Doppler radar and satellite imagery, National Weather Service bulletins, and even tidal gages. Forensic meteorologists may also take their own measurements, such as wind velocity. Cases are mainly site-specific, and much of the problem-solving involves knowing what synoptic, or generalized, data is needed to reconstruct the micrometeorology at a particular location.

“A lot of what we depend on is experience, but we need tools of the industry, such as Doppler radar and good observations” to solve mysteries related to weather, Lombardo says.

He recounts one of his cases in which a crane collapsed near a building, injuring the operator. It was a blustery day, and the wind threshold of the crane ranged from approximately 48 to 56 kilometers per hour, according to the manufacturer. Hired by the operator, his charge was to determine how the localized weather influenced the crane’s fall. Lombardo visited the site on a day that had similar conditions as when the accident occurred, and on noticing that the crane was positioned near a nine-meter wall, wondered if that had influenced the site’s wind velocity. He measured the wind speed using an anemometer, noting that the wind intersected the wall at a 70 to 80 degree angle. By calculating simple vectors, he discovered that the wind speed near the crane was around 29 to 48 kilometers per hour, right at the edge of what the crane could withstand. “I secured information that supported the case that the [worker] shouldn’t have been operating the crane,” Lombardo says. “It wasn’t his fault. It was a function of the wind converging on the wall, which increased the wind pressure on the crane, causing it to collapse.”

Sometimes, data that is needed to decipher how atmospheric conditions affected a particular location and case is not available. Stephen Wistar, a forensic meteorologist with AccuWeather, consulted on hundreds of cases relating to Hurricane Katrina. Most of his investigations centered on insurance claims about whether wind or storm surge caused property damage. He lacked access to much of the typical data he would have used in similar circumstances because many of the standard tools, such as weather stations and tidal gages, failed when the storm hit. Instead, he utilized a massive computer model called “ADvanced CIRCulation” (ADCIRC), which predicts tidal and storm surge elevations and velocities over large areas. Combined with information he retrieved from Doppler radar sites outside of New Orleans, and on-site investigations he conducted himself, he was able to reconstruct time lines of property damage and state which hit property first—the wind or the water.

In his Katrina inquiries, Wistar also discovered that “trees were very helpful” in solving cases. In areas of Mobile, Ala., where complete neighborhoods were torn apart, he often examined tree damage for clues about what caused property destruction. He knew the direction of the wind at various points in the storm, both before and after the storm surge, and therefore could determine which direction trees would have fallen at those same points. By noting fallen tree locations and directions, he determined time lines for property devastation, even when there were no structures left standing.

“Part of our job is to filter the data and understand what makes and doesn’t make sense,” Wistar says. But above all, “my job is to tell the truth.”

With the climate changing, forensic meteorologists’ work will not diminish. “‘Extreme’ will become the new normal,” Lombardo says. “Our most difficult tasks as forensic meteorologists are dealing with these extreme events, and how the forensic meteorology, insurance and legal industries are going to react.” New definitions of what is “extreme” will affect potential claims against municipalities, Wistar adds.

Another concern is the uptick in weather and related events occurring on a planet-wide basis, such as El Niño and La Niña. Generally, forensic meteorologists’ examinations are limited to a specific site. “If climate change continues to occur, however, and we see more worldwide events in increasing frequency, will that change how we look at local events? It may,” ponders Lombardo. He cites a global weather phenomenon, called atmospheric blocking, as an example of a planet-wide occurrence that is has already affected his forensic micrometeorology endeavors. Atmospheric blocking obstructs winds that come across the Pacific and forces them north into Alaska, Siberia and the North Pole. The winds then head south, “creating a pool of cold Arctic air that moves into the United States, providing a source for ice storms to develop,” he says. In the past two years, up and down the eastern seaboard, atmospheric blocking has directly led to snowfall in areas where heavy snow is uncommon, and consequently, “hundreds of slip-and-fall cases” have come across Lombardo’s desk. “[Atmospheric blocking] results in localized storms that produce the conditions that are favorable to generating future forensic work,” he says.

But the future holds other concerns—and opportunities—for forensic meteorologists. As Wistar notes, more people have migrated to regions on the planet “where the weather tends to be more dangerous,” such as the southern U.S. With more people in harm’s way, there will undoubtedly be more legal, insurance and engineering cases in which forensic meteorologists’ expert contributions will be vital.

Lasers could be used for rainmaking

Laser beams could be used to create rain – Telegraph.

Firing laser beams into humid air could give scientists control over when and where rain falls, a new study claims.

Laser beams could be used to create rain

The method works by firing laser beams into the air, creating nitric acid particles which draw water molecules together and stop them from evaporating, according to a study in the Nature Communications journal Photo: ALAMY

Researchers from the University of Geneva used lasers to create water droplets in the air, in a development which could eventually lead to man-made weather systems.

Although the technique, known as laser-assisted water condensation, does not work in dry air scientists were able to generate the droplets in very humid conditions over the Rhône river in Switzerland.

The drops created – just thousandths of a millimetre across – were nowhere near heavy enough to fall as rain but the experts hope that by making them hundreds of times larger they will be able to create or prevent rainfall in the right conditions.

The method works by firing laser beams into the air, creating nitric acid particles which draw water molecules together and stop them from evaporating, according to a study in the Nature Communications journal.

If the process is repeated in air currents that are blowing towards mountains, the researchers hope the air will cool enough that the droplets grow large enough to fall as rain.

Storms bring deadly weather

Storms bring deadly weather, more due over weekend | Reuters.

Severe storms hit the Midwest on Saturday and are expected later in the Northeast, where flash flooding killed at least four people in Pittsburgh on Friday.

Heavy rains submerged cars in flood water that was nine feet deep in places in Pittsburgh, authorities said.

A mother and her two daughters died when water engulfed their vehicle in a low-lying section of the city’s Washington Boulevard near the Allegheny River.

Kimberly Griffith, 45, and her daughters Brenna, 12, and Mikaela, 8, were pronounced dead at the scene, a spokeswoman for the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said.

The water pinned their vehicle to a tree and they were unable to escape, authorities said.

Also recovered after the flood was the body of Mary Saflin, 72, who had been reported missing earlier, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office.

The Philadelphia area was also soaked by heavy thunder showers Friday, bringing a record rainfall of 12.95 inches for August, close to the record for any month, according to NWS meteorologist Lee Robertson.

The previous record is from September 1999, set when a hurricane pushed rainfall to 13.07 inches.

As more storms were forecast for the region Sunday, the NWS warned in a flood advisory that nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle-related.

“As little as six inches of water will cause you to lose control of your vehicle,” the NWS stated.

MORE STORMS

The Weather Channel forecast more storms from the Great Lakes to the Central Plains into Saturday night.

One man died as storms and a tornado roared across northern Wisconsin Friday night, cutting an 8-mile-wide swath 65 miles north of Green Bay and taking out power to around 2,000 homes, officials said.

Douglas Brem, 43, was staying in a rented trailer at a recycling center in the path of the storm, which caused extensive damage to homes, Marinette County Coroner George Smith said.

A fierce thunderstorm in the Chicago area Saturday suspended the Chicago Air & Water Show until about 2 p.m., leaving time for a condensed show. The two-day free annual event was expected to attract around 2 million spectators.

Saturday’s thunderstorm threat will shift to the Northeast Sunday.

The Southeastern Virginia Hampton Roads region was spared from severe storm activity, but smoke from a 6,000-acre fire in the Great Dismal Swamp continues to plague the region down into North Carolina.

Virginia’s Environmental Quality Department downgraded Friday’s air quality red alert in some areas to orange, advising of possible health problems for sensitive individuals.

(Additional reporting by John Rondy in Milwaukee, Cynthia Johnston in Las Vegas, Matthew A. Ward in Chesapeake, Va., David Warner in Philadelphia; Writing by Molly O’Toole and Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Jerry Norton)

Weather Service pleads to be spared from cuts

Weather Service urges to be spared from spending cuts | Reuters.

MIAMI | Thu Aug 4, 2011 5:53pm EDT

(Reuters) – Nature has not stinted in unleashing deadly weather on the United States this year and leaders should recognize the need for good forecasting services when they wield the cost-cutting knife, the director of the National Weather Service said on Thursday.

Jack Hayes used the opportunity of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s updated 2011 Atlantic hurricane forecast to stress “what taxpayers are getting in return for their investment in the National Weather Service,” which is part of NOAA.

A hard-fought deficit-cutting deal passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama this week foresees $2.1 trillion in overall budget savings over 10 years, with painful cuts expected across the government.

“Here in Washington, D.C., our nation’s leaders are making extremely tough decisions about federal spending, including what government services to fund and which to trim in efforts to reduce the nation’s deficit,” Hayes said on a conference call before the hurricane forecast update.

Calling this situation a “pressing issue,” Hayes said 2011 has been a record year so far for extreme weather.

“Many recent events have shattered long standing records for tornadoes, floods, blizzards, wildfires and now we’re experiencing, throughout much of the nation, heat waves,” he said.

Tornadoes raking across the United States this year killed more than 540 people, and these and other extreme weather events have caused $32 billion in economic losses so far, making it a costly year, Hayes said.

“And we’re only halfway through the year with the bulk of the hurricane season still ahead,” he added.

Predicting the Atlantic-Caribbean region was heading for a busier-than-average 2011 hurricane season, NOAA experts raised their activity outlook, forecasting 14 to 19 tropical storms, with seven to 10 of those growing into hurricanes.

The National Weather Service chief said the service’s outlooks and forecasts provided key weather and climate information to industries from aviation to farming, tourism and fishing, to states and local municipalities, power companies and emergency managers.

“Accurate and timely weather services are important in people’s daily lives but, even more important, they are a critical part of rebuilding the nation’s economic security and reducing tragic loss of precious lives,” Hayes said.

(Editing by Vicki Allen)

Heat waves pushes Texas power grid to the limit

Heat waves pushes Texas power grid into red zone | Reuters.

HOUSTON | Thu Aug 4, 2011 4:56pm EDT

(Reuters) – The Texas power grid operator has scrambled this week to meet soaring electricity demand in the face of a brutal heat wave, and residents of the second most populous U.S. state are one power plant shut-down away from rolling blackouts.

Power demand for Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc, or ERCOT, which runs the power grid for most of the state, hit three consecutive records this week as Texans cranked up air conditioners to escape one of the hottest summers on record.

The grid operator on Thursday cut power to some big industrial users, and businesses and households face a repeat of the rolling blackouts they faced in February, when a bitter cold snap interrupted power supplies.

Though ERCOT has done a good job balancing supply and demand, “You always have to expect the unexpected can happen,” said Arshad Mansoor, senior vice president at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). “A unit can shut. The wind may not blow.”

It’s been a year of extreme weather for the Lone Star State, already suffering from the worst drought on record.

Ice storms in February crippled dozens of power plants, forcing ERCOT to impose rolling blackouts for hours as electric supplies dropped below demand for the juice.

Now a protracted heat wave with temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 Celsius) for several weeks in a row in many cities has stretched power supplies to the limit.

Power usage in ERCOT reached its highest level ever on Wednesday at 68,294 megawatts, almost 4 percent over last year’s peak.

The Texas grid faces at least one more day of extreme stress before temperatures cool a bit over the weekend. Temperatures in Houston, the state’s biggest city, should return to near normal levels in the upper 90s over the weekend, according to AccuWeather.com.

The state’s biggest power generators, including units of Energy Future Holdings, NRG Energy, Calpine Corp and others, have been running flat out to cash in real-time prices that have hit the $3,000/MWh cap in recent days.

But the state’s reserve margins have been running razor thin. On Wednesday ERCOT came within 50 megawatts of interrupting flows to industrial customers. That’s equal to the output of about 25 industrial-scale windmills.

One megawatt powers about 200 homes in Texas during hot weather when air conditioners are running for long periods.

More generation supplies would come in handy, but state power generators can’t be expected to prepare for every extreme, said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT’s vice president of system planning and operations.

“You have to determine if it is worth spending millions or billions to avoid a one in 10-year event,” Saathoff told reporters on Wednesday.

RECORD BREAKING PRICES

With record-breaking demand came record-breaking prices. Prices for Thursday power topped $400 per megawatt hour, the highest in at least a decade. Friday’s power prices approached $600.

Real-time prices also hit the $3,000 market cap over the past few days.

ERCOT has about 73,000 MW of natural gas, coal, oil, nuclear and wind generating facilities, but not all of that capacity is available all the time.

Texas has the most wind power in the country, but the wind does not blow during the summer. Ercot said it got about 2,000 MW from wind during the peak hour on Wednesday. Those wind farms can produce about 9,000 MW when all turbines are spinning.

Moreover, the ERCOT power grid is a virtual island with only a few small transmission links to neighboring electric grids, making it tough for Texas to pull energy from neighboring states in times of need.

Connecting Texas wires to the rest of the U.S. grid would cost at least as much as a state transmission investment program to carry Texas wind supplies to cities like Dallas and Houston, pegged at about $6 billion, Saathoff said.

(Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York, editing by Chris Baltimore; Editing by David Gregorio)

More extreme weather in store across U.S

More extreme weather in store across U.S.: Scientific American.

More extreme weather was expected across the country on Sunday, as parts of the Midwest and Northeast faced possible flooding from slow-moving storms while blistering triple-digit temperatures were expected in coastal Southeastern states.

More extreme weather in store across U.S. More extreme weather in store across U.S. A man removes his shirt to cope with the heat as he sits in the shade in Dallas, Texas August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone Image:

By Colleen Jenkins

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla (Reuters) – More extreme weather was expected across the country on Sunday, as parts of the Midwest and Northeast faced possible flooding from slow-moving storms while blistering triple-digit temperatures were expected in coastal Southeastern states.

A strong, westerly wind flowing down from the Appalachian Mountains will briefly push temperatures in Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia over the century mark in the afternoons on Sunday and Monday, according to AccuWeather.com.

The temperature will feel like 110 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit with the humidity.

After dumping rains on the Bahamas, the remnants of former Tropical Storm Emily moved into the open Atlantic and away from the U.S. East Coast on Sunday as a tropical depression.

The remaining clouds and thunderstorms carried top sustained winds of 35 miles per hour with little change in strength expected over the next 24 hours, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

AccuWeather.com meteorologists predicted a stormy day in the Midwest and Northeast, with the I-95 corridor from the Baltimore area north to New York City seen as particularly vulnerable to flooding from heavy rains.

“Because many in this region experienced heavy rain on Saturday and overnight, the threat for flooding in low-lying and poor drainage areas will be elevated as any heavy shower or storm rolls through,” AccuWeather.com meteorologist Bill Deger said on the website.

The American Red Cross on Sunday said nearly 100 homes had been damaged by flash floods in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Friday.

Authorities had recovered the bodies of a 43-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter, who appeared to have drowned in a creek swollen by heavy rains in east Charlotte.

HIGH HEAT CONTINUES

Heat advisories remain in effect in the South and Central Plains, which have been baking for weeks in high heat that shows little sign of subsiding.

In New Orleans, organizers of the annual music festival honoring jazz legend Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong dubbed the event as “Satchmo in the Shade” this weekend after erecting massive tents to help keep attendees cool in the 90-degree heat.

Temperatures well into the triple digits are forecast over a large area of central and western Texas for the coming week.

The Weather Channel predicts highs by midweek of 109 degrees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which already has sweltered through 36 consecutive days of temperatures topping 100 degrees.

The state’s power grid is being pushed to the limit by the widespread nature of the heat. Residents are being urged to turn their air conditioning units up to 80 degrees and avoid using appliances such as dishwashers or laundry equipment, especially during the late afternoon.

“They are not only your hottest times of the day, but they are also the times of the day when not only is the workplace still active, but people are heading home and using more electricity there as well,” said Terry Hadley, a spokesman for the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

Meanwhile, parts of the Midwest are on the verge of breaking out of the prolonged heat grip, the National Weather Service said.

In Kansas City, Missouri, where the city’s health department says 24 people have died this summer from heat-suspected causes, the forecasted high of 95 degrees on Sunday is expected to give way to highs in the middle to low 80s for the rest of the week starting Monday.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Gray in Miami, Jim Forsyth in San Antonio, Kevin Murphy in Kansas City and Kathy Finn in New Orleans; Editing by Jerry Norton)

15 states under advisories as heat wave holds tight across South

15 states under advisories as heat wave holds tight across South – CNN.com.

(CNN) — The National Weather Service issued heat advisories for parts of 15 states Thursday, nearly all in the South, stretching from a sliver of Southern California to North Carolina.

Thursday will be the 34th straight day of 100-plus-degree temperatures in Dallas, if the forecast holds true.

Texas set another record for electricity demand on Wednesday — a third straight day for that distinction.

“We are expecting another record-high electricity demand (Thursday), so we are continuing our call for conservation,” said Kent Saathoff with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages the state’s power grid.

Temperatures reached a record high in Little Rock, Arkansas, Wednesday, soaring to a scalding 114 degrees. It’s the hottest day on record for the city, according to CNN affiliate KLRT-TV.

Heat kills high school football player
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Officials restricted high school football practices to three hours after four student athletes were hospitalized with dehydration, KLRT said.

The heat wave is taking a deadly toll across the nation, particularly on athletes, as two football players and a coach died during summer football practices this week.

DonTeria Searcy, a 16-year-old high school student, died Tuesday after he passed out after a morning practice at a Florida football camp, the local sheriff’s department said.

Another 16-year-old student, Forrest Jones, died Tuesday in a hospital after he passed out during a football practice at an Atlanta-area high school, school administrators said.

And on Monday in Texas, Wade McLain, 55, an assistant football coach, collapsed during a morning practice and heat was ruled as a factor in his death, the local medical examiner’s office said.

In the St. Louis suburb of Pine Lawn, Missouri, a 19-year-old woman was charged with one count of parental neglect as she, her two children and her boyfriend either passed out or fell asleep on a basketball court in the midday sun.

A passerby called 911 after spotting the four.

“The caller apparently told our officers there were four dead people in the heat on the basketball court,” Pine Lawn Police Chief Rickey Collins told CNN affiliate KTVI-TV.

“This is definitely a careless situation from a parent,” he said. “We’re not going to go lightly on it.”

In Oklahoma City, an afternoon at a water park turned unpleasant for visitors seeking a break from the blazing sun Wednesday.

Three women at the Whitewater Bay Water Park in Oklahoma were transported to a hospital after getting hit with debris kicked up by a summer storm.

“A gust of wind and a quick deluge of rain caused the injuries,” said Lara O’Leary, a spokeswoman for the city’s Emergency Medical Service Authority. “It happened so abruptly it took the Whitewater Bay swimmers by surprise, but the weather is, in a way, a welcome relief because we were predicted to get up to 113 here.”

The injuries sustained were minor and the victims were in good condition as of Wednesday evening.

Paramedics have responded to 269 heat-related emergencies and taken 174 people to area hospitals since a heat advisory was issued on June 17, O’Leary said.

In other parts of the city, school administrators scrambled to find air-conditioned classrooms for students as systems strained under the heat wave.

Nearly 100 classrooms were without air conditioning Wednesday, said Tierney Cook-Tinnin, spokeswoman for Oklahoma City Public Schools. The school system changed its schedule this year so that students came earlier, starting Monday, the spokeswoman said.

The children have been moved out of the overheated classrooms and staff was frantically trying to fix the problem, Cook-Tinnin said.

“We’ve hired outside contractors to help us catch up,” she said.

'Dangerous' heat wave creeps eastward

‘Dangerous’ heat wave creeps eastward – CNN.

Take me out to the ball game? For some dealing with this relentless heat wave, that idea could make you think twice.

The heat wave that has taken hold of much of the upper Midwest over the past few days is taking its toll on just about everyone — including those who may be used to working up a sweat outdoors.

Case in point: Monday’s Philadelphia Phillies vs. Chicago Cubs baseball game. Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay was forced to leave the game early as temperatures at Chicago’s Wrigley Field soared into the 90s. The heat index during game time was far more than 100 degrees.

Halladay, his face beet-red and his off-white jersey soaked, left the game in the fifth inning.

Chicago isn’t alone. The “dangerous” heat wave baking the central United States is expected to extend to the East Coast by the end of this week, the National Weather Service said Tuesday.

The weather service on Tuesday declared “excessive-heat” warnings in 13 states — Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin — through Friday.

Parts of six other states — Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas — are under heat advisories through at least Wednesday, the weather service said.

Cities already are under heat watches for the rest of the week include Grand Rapids, Michigan; Memphis, Tennessee; Taunton, Massachusetts; Wilmington, Ohio; Detroit and Pontiac, Michigan; State College, Pennsylvania; New York City; Baltimore and Washington.

“Heat-index values” — how hot it feels outside — have been running more than 125 degrees in the worst-hit areas. The scale designed to describe how intense the heat feels takes relative humidity into account along with temperature.

Two factors contribute to making this current heat wave especially dangerous: the lack of a significant drop in temperatures overnight to allow people’s bodies to cool and relatively high humidity, which makes the air feel appreciably hotter than the thermometer may indicate, said Jacob Beitlich, a Des Moines, Iowa-based meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

In Iowa, for instance, he noted that the impact of mid-90s temperatures has been compounded by dew points — or saturation temperatures — in the upper 70s and low 80s. These combine to make the heat index spike so that it feels as hot as 126 degrees, the weather service said.