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Heat Dome Puts Mid- and Southwest States on High Alert

Heat Dome Puts Mid- and Southwest States on High Alert

Scorching temperatures nationwide are creating a heat dome in the middle of the country and across several Southwestern states, leaving around 60 million people under heat advisories.

The heat dome phenomena occurs when hot air gets trapped over a particular area by a “lid” of high atmospheric pressure. When patterns in the jet stream – a narrow belt of strong winds high above the Earth’s surface – change or weaken, pressure systems that usually move through the U.S. from west to east can end up stuck between lower pressure systems for an extended period, according to Scientific American.

Forecasts show that temperatures will likely reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit for several consecutive days in Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri, among other states. The heat dome could be particularly problematic because night temperatures are predicted to remain around or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit in certain parts of the country.

“If you can, check up on those who may be more vulnerable or are without some form of [air conditioning],” the Little Rock, AR, Weather Service posted in an online forum. “The other hazard of note [will] be overnight low temps, as we [will likely] see . . . a few nights” in a row without “any overnight relief.”

The National Weather Service in St. Louis also warned people to avoid rigorous activities that could lead to “heat related illnesses,” which “increase significantly during extreme heat and high humidity events.”

In addition to the danger posed to local residents, heat domes have proved damaging for infrastructure and animal populations as well. A train recently derailed near San Francisco due to high temperatures, and a video went viral last month in which a large number of dead cattle were seen piled up along a road in Kansas. The state’s Department of Health and Environment confirmed that at least 2,000 cows had died as a result of heat stress.

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