Why is it so hot? That is what millions of Americans in over 26 states are wondering as temperatures and especially those “feels like” numbers remain in triple digits. This extremely hot weather has plagued most of America for nearly a month, with some areas being rendered almost unlivable.
A heat dome currently blankets over 122 million Americans with stifling heat, but what exactly is this scorching weather phenomenon? According to NBC News, a high-pressure system or ridge traps hot air beneath it. The hot, humid air is forced down and trapped in a single area. The dome covers a very large area in this case.
Why is it so hot, even when the thermometer clearly shows it isn’t really over 100 degrees? It is because of the humidity, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. Humidity drives up the heat index, and the weather has been very humid, as well as exceptionally hot.
What is a heat index? The measurement used to quantify the combined effect of humidity and temperature on human beings is called the heat index. It is the way humans experience the sensation of heat, beyond reading a thermometer. It is similar to the experience of wind chill when wind coupled with cold air makes the air feel a lot colder.
Why is it so hot? Because of the heat dome, the heat index in the Midwest has been over 115 degrees on at least some days and well over 100 on the east coast as well. Further west, people are unaccustomed to high humidity, so it feels even worse to them.
When the heatwave ends, it will bring even more weather chaos according to NBC News. The east coast is already experienced this extreme aftermath. Many major Northeast cities were pelted by rain, and hail, as thunderstorms, damaging winds, and excessive precipitation wrecked havoc across the east on Friday. Flash floods are still a problem as the heat dome takes its last bit of revenge on the east.
Why is it so hot? Has this kind of heat dome weather phenomenon ever happened before? Yes, it has. The dust bowl of the 1930s that impacted crops in the Midwest during the height of the depression was very similar to today’s weather.
Is this Global Warming? While human activities may be exacerbating the situation, as it did in the 1930s when inefficient farming techniques robbed large areas of the ground of moisture, this weather is part of cyclic conditions in all weather. Though the poor farming techniques of yesteryear and the climate change aspects spoken of today both have their parts to play in the two situations, perhaps even playing a large part in the severity, much of this situation is cyclic according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
“Because the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are so large, these natural cycles can heat large areas of the atmosphere from underneath, much like a stove heats a pot of boiling water. When aligned like they are right now, they can contribute to extreme heat and drought in the central part of the country.”
So that is why it is so hot, but when will this end? Forecasters now believe relief from this heat dome is in sight. According to NBC News, the temperature will start to drop significantly by Monday, with full relief coming by Thursday of this week.
Why is it so hot, and will this kind of phenomenon ever happen again? Probably, yes it is cyclic, so it happens on a regular basis throughout history, but varies in severity according to other conditions, at least a few of which are man-made. Overall though these are normal cycles.
Why is it so hot? A heat dome, over the Midwest caused by cyclic ocean conditions, has caused hot moist air to be trapped, but the system is now breaking up.
[Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images]