Metro Detroit weather: Dangerous heat knocking on the door

Get set to sweat

By Paul Gross - Meteorologist

Things are relatively quiet during this early afternoon period, with only a couple of isolated showers that recently popped up.  

A widely scattered shower or thunderstorm is possible the remainder of the afternoon, but many more of us won’t get rain than will.  

One really good piece of news is that some drier air is working into the area right now, and that could allow temperatures overnight to slip into the mid to upper 60s (18 to 20 degrees Celsius). It’s going to be a dry night, as well.

We start cranking up both the temperature and humidity on Thursday, as highs reach the low 90s (33 degrees Celsius), with a heat index – how it will actually feel outside – between 95 and 100 degrees (35 to 38 degrees Celsius).

Scattered storms, possibly severe, are possible Thursday afternoon and evening. The combination of sunshine, heat, humidity, and light wind means that Thursday will be an Ozone Action Day.

Conditions will be prime for low-level ozone to develop, which is unhealthy for you and me.  You’ve probably heard about ozone before…but in a positive light:  it blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

However, THAT layer of ozone is about ten miles aloft. Ozone here at the surface makes life rough on those particularly in ill health or with respiratory problems.

Believe it or not, there are a few common sense things you can do that actually make a tremendous difference in reducing the emissions that are turned into ozone by the sunshine, heat and humidity:

  • This is an easy one:  avoid fueling your vehicle until evening, and don’t top off the tank, which releases additional fumes into the air.
  • If you have the ability, carpool or use public transportation (or walk or bike to work or on your errands), as every vehicle that doesn’t operate is less exhaust that gets into the air.
  • Avoid using gasoline powered lawn equipment until evening, because those don’t have the pollution controls that vehicles do, so they are actually big emitters of exhaust.
  • Reduce electricity use at home and work.  This is pretty simple:  the less power we use, the less electricity our coal burning power plants have to generate, which reduces their emissions.

Thursday’s sunrise is at 6:13 a.m., and Thursday’s sunset is at 9:06 p.m.

Thursday night is where the heat wave really takes hold, as overnight lows only drop into the upper 70s (26 degrees Celsius), and remember that it’ll take all night long to get there.  This will be very tough on those without air conditioning.  

Remember that it’s those warm overnight lows that make heat waves so dangerous…when the body can’t recover at night from the day’s heat stress.

Friday and weekend

Friday will be very hot and humid, and we cannot rule out some pop up thunderstorms, especially during the afternoon.  Highs in the mid to upper 90s (35 to 37 degrees Celsius), with a heat index of 105 to 110 degrees (41 to 43 degrees Celsius).  

It is likely that the National Weather Service will issue an Excessive Heat Warning for Friday and Saturday.

Oppressively warm and muggy Friday night, with lows in the upper 70s (26 degrees Celsius).

Continued very hot and humid on Saturday with afternoon thunderstorms possible.  Highs in the mid to upper 90s (35 to 37 degrees Celsius), with a heat index of 105 to 110 degrees (41 to 43 degrees Celsius).  

Warm and muggy once again Saturday night, with lows in the low 70s (22 degrees Celsius).  

We have a chance of showers and thunderstorms on Sunday, but it’s unclear how widespread the activity will be.  It’ll still be hot and humid, though not as bad as the previous two days with highs near 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius).  

Monday is a transition day, as cooler, less humid air starts working into the area, and preliminary indications are that most of next week will feature spectacular summer weather!

In the meantime, here are some heat wave tips that will really help:

  • Close your drapes and blinds during the daytime hours.  Just keeping the sun from shining through the windows helps a lot.  It’s like moving the inside of your house into the shade.  And if the nights cool off enough, open the windows and let that cooler air into the house, before closing the windows again when you wake up to keep that rapidly warming air out.
  • If you have air conditioning, make sure that your furnace filter is clean.  A clean filter means that your furnace’s motor more efficiently pushes that cooler air throughout your house.
  • Heat stresses us, especially the very young, very old, and those in poor health.  KNOW YOUR LIMITS.  If you don’t have air conditioning, it’s important to relieve that heat stress.  Perhaps spend some time at an air conditioned mall, or a friend / relative’s house.  If nothing else, a cool shower or bath certainly can help cool you off.  Just find a way to interrupt the heat’s stress and give yourself some recovery time.  Most heat-related health issues result from extended periods of heat stress.
  • Stay hydrated, and make sure that you’re hydrating with water and sports drinks.  This is critical, because we sweat more when it’s hot, and this draws a lot of fluids out of our bodies.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol, because they dehydrate you…the exact opposite of what you want during a heat wave.
  • Wear cotton or linen clothing, as these natural fibers absorb sweat and allow your skin to breathe.  Synthetic material, like polyester and rayon, don’t breathe, and trap sweat on your skin…which makes you more uncomfortable.  
  • This one may surprise you, and it comes from my colleagues at the BBC in London!  You probably already know that, if you’ll be out in the hot sun, you should wear light colored clothing (preferably white).  This helps reflect solar radiation, and keeps you cooler than dark colored clothing.  However, if you’ll be inside, or in solid shade, dark clothing actually is better because it absorbs heat from your body and radiates that heat out into the environment around you, especially if there’s a light breeze.  Yes, indoors or in the shade, black clothing actually helps keep you cooler!
  • If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pets.  Please make sure they have relief from the heat, and a dependable supply of clean, cool water to drink.  Also, remember that the pavement will become VERY hot…and especially so for asphalt surfaces.  If you are taking your fur baby for a walk, keep him or her on the grass.  YOU wouldn’t walk on that hot pavement barefoot, so why would you force your pet to?

HEAT STROKE:  

Heat stroke occurs when our internal body temperature rises to an unsafe level…above 105° (41° Celsius).  If you notice somebody in the heat exhibiting the following symptoms, call 911 immediately:

  • Hot, dry skin (no sweating), despite the heat.  The skin may also be red.
  • Severe headache or dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • General weakness or severe muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid heartbeat and rapid, shallow breathing
  • Seizures

After calling 911, start first aid which, in this case, is simply trying to cool the person.  If possible, put them in a tub of cool water.  If that’s not possible, dampen their skin and fan them, or sponge them with cool water.  You can even use the cool water from a garden hose.  Another very effective thing to do is putting ice packs under the armpits and in the groin area. 

It’s vitally important to get the person’s core body temperature down as best you can until the EMS arrives. Even just moving them into some air conditioning helps. At the very minimum, at least get them into the shade.

If you know any elderly people who live without air conditioning, or somebody with very young children, please check on them when we hit the peak of this heat wave.  And don’t forget our pets…they are even more susceptible to this extreme heat than we are.  Please let them stay inside in the air conditioning and, if they have to stay outside, at the very minimum, provide them with shade and a good supply of cold water to drink.  But extended time outside is not the place to be for our animals.

Copyright 2019 by WDIV ClickOnDetroit - All rights reserved.