The official start of summer was last week and it looks like mother nature isn’t going to waste any time making sure everyone knows it. Forecasters are predicting the hottest weather in nearly five years and it's headed for the Charlotte area this weekend.
Meteorologists say a strong high-pressure system that is bringing searing heat to the Midwest is expected to push eastward over the next few days, sending the thermometer soaring across the eastern United States. By Friday, as the center of high pressure moves closer, temperatures will reach or surpass the 100-degree mark and possibly stay that way into Monday.
This heatwave hitting the Carolinas comes ironically on the heels of record low temperatures. The unofficial morning low Wednesday in Charlotte was 56 degrees, which broke the mark of 59 for the date, set in 1974. However, temperatures are supposed to steadily increase throughout the week. Temperatures are expected to reach 87 by Wednesday afternoon and the mid-’90s by Thursday.
The only consolation for the Charlotte region will be reasonably low humidity levels through Friday. This will make the heat a little more tolerable and the air won't feel like a wet blanket.
This upcoming heatwave may be setting some new records in the Carolinas as well. Forecasters are predicting highs in Piedmont on Saturday that will range from 101 to 105 degrees. The official forecast high for Charlotte is 103, which would break the mark of 102 degrees set in 1959. The same is true for Sunday with a forecast high of 100 and a record of 99, set in 1954.
The last time the Charlotte area had three consecutive 100 degree days was Aug. 8-10, 2007. Temperatures hit over 100 degrees six times that month and reached a record high of 104 twice. Since 2007, Charlotte temperatures have hit over 100 only four times, twice in 2010 and twice last year.
When temperatures start reaching these high levels, the danger for heat-related illnesses rises. People’s bodies are not able to cool themselves quickly enough, and they overheat. In severe instances, people can suffer heatstroke, which can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Children and older adults are at the highest risk for these types of heat-related illnesses, but individuals who work outside are also at high risk.
If you or your loved ones are going to be outdoors during these record-breaking temperatures, be cautious of heat-related illnesses. Try to limit exposure to the sun and opt for shady areas if possible. Make sure everyone stays hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you have to work outside during these conditions try to begin as early in the day as possible. Finally, it is important for everyone to know how to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion.