Extreme heat continued to grip much of the United States on Thursday, with parts of the country facing the prospect of triple-digit temperatures and nearly 200 million Americans across 34 states under some kind of heat-related advisory.
In the mid-Atlantic, Northeast and New England, baking temperatures and exceptionally high humidity on Thursday are forecast to make temperatures in the 90s feel like upward of 100 degrees in major cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.
New York City and parts of New Jersey are under an excessive heat warning as the heat index, which is what the temperature actually feels like when humidity and air temperature is combined, is expected to reach 102 degrees Thursday — a rare occurrence in the month of August. The last time the tri-state area was issued an excessive heat warning in August was in 2016. Most heat advisories happen in June and July.
In the nation’s capital, the heat index is forecast to reach 105 degrees. And in Philadelphia, it is expected to feel like 106 degrees.
A string of heat advisories also hit the center of the country from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes, with heat index values reaching as high as 115 degrees. Major cities, including Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Tennessee, and Houston, could all experience dangerous heat the remainder of the week.
On Wednesday evening, extreme temperatures in the Midwest and the Great Lakes fueled the risk of severe thunderstorms and produced damaging winds between 40 to 55 mph, with pockets of gusts up to 80 mph. Widespread winds caused major power outages in the states of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Across the Pacific Northwest, which just experienced its hottest June and July on record, temperatures are expected to break records. Seattle, Portland, Oregon and Spokane, Washington, are all projected to hit the triple digits, according to the latest forecast.
The baking temperatures scorching the U.S. came the same week Europe may have recorded its hottest day ever at 120 degrees in Sicily, Italy.
This year has seen extreme heat that continues to help fuel more than 100 burning wildfires across more than a dozen states, which has been exacerbated by climate change.
California’s Dixie Fire, the largest active fire in the nation and second-largest in California history, clocked in at over half a million acres and was only 30 percent contained Thursday.
For regions under some kind of heat advisory, the National Weather Service tweeted a bleak reminder: “Yes, it’s summer, but this type of heat can kill. Avoid strenuous activity during the midday, and bring along extra hydration, even if just going about normal business.”