Triple-digit temps, sky-high heat index expected this week

Summer is nearly three weeks away, but heat already could be at dangerous levels the rest of this week.
National Weather Service forecasters say the heat index, which blends actual temperatures with humidity levels to show how hot humans actually feel, could reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit or more beginning this afternoon. In Tupelo, the forecast is for an actual temperature on Thursday of 100, even before the humidity is factored in.
“It’s going to be hot and humid and sunny for a while,” said Ryan Husted, a forecaster with the National Weather Service’s Memphis office. “We’re under a ridge of strong pressure for a while. We don’t anticipate even any rain soon that might cool things down.”
Husted said heat advisories are unlikely this week, because only one of the two factors necessary for such cautionary statements are expected.
“Heat advisories are issued when we expect heat index values of 105 to 109 and overnight low temperatures of 75 or higher,” he said. This week, those lows are expected stay between 70 and 74.
Official advisory or not, those afternoon heat indices can be dangerous. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said heat-related illness occurs when the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently, normally by sweating. When that happens, body temperature rises rapidly and can cause damage to the brain and other organs.
“The people who need to be most concerned are the ones with vascular problems or diabetes,” said Dr. Kecia Kirk, an Oxford-based family-practice physician. “Also, certain medications can make people prone not to perspire regularly – especially diuretics, diabetic medicines, certain anti-seizure medicines, tricyclic antidepressants, some medicines for overactive bladder.”
Kirk said older people and children especially should stay hydrated and take frequent breaks in cooled spaces.
“Don’t work outside alone if you have medical problems that make you more prone to heat-related illness,” she said.
The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates temperatures in much of the South will be warmer than usual for most of June.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal