Monday June 11, 2012 has been deemed Heat Awareness Day in Vermont and New York. The National Weather Service in Burlington teamed up with local emergency management to raise awareness about summertime heat. This is a good time and reminder how to stay safe in those 90° days.
According to the National Weather Service, about 160 people die from heat-related causes each year in the U.S. It's not the leading cause of weather-related fatalities by any means, but still as meteorologists we'd like that number to go down to zero. So if preparation is to blame with the deaths, let's get the information out in advance of any heat we get this year.
Let's talk first about how often heat is observed in the Champlain Valley. According to the National Weather Service in Burlington, a 'hot' day is when temperatures reach or exceed 90°. On average, Burlington gets to 90° or above 6 times per year. There have been many years where the mercury never made it to 90°, however there have been the hot years as well:
Most # of days at or above 90° in a calendar year in Burlington*
*Data courtesy the NWS-Burlington
Thus we can get our fair share of hot days as seen here! In 2011 we reached to 90° or above 7 times, which is one more than average. The longest stretch of 90° weather was in 1944, 8 days from August 10-17.
When the temperature reaches to 90° people are usually heading out to enjoy some of that heat. However outdoor activities become much more difficult and strenuous. The people that are most affected by this heat are:
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways to combat any fatigue or illness from the heat. Your skin will act as its own air conditioner when you get very hot. Sweating acts as a cooling device from the beats of sweat forming on your skin, then evaporating into the air. The evaporation process takes heat, and your body is the source of it. So actually when you don't sweat and it's extremely hot out, it may mean you're dehydrated. Here are other tips on staying safe in this summer's heat:
Bottom line: Take it easy! I can personally tell you of a heat experience I had. I was visiting the Death Valley area and stopped to walk up a hill to an overlook and take pictures. It was 112° at the time and I was walking steadily up the hill at the same pace I move around here in Vermont. Halfway up the hill I started to feel nauseous and dizzy and I had to stop and wait a couple of minutes because I was moving too fast in heat I wasn't used to. Thereafter I went much slower and felt much better because of it.
-Meteorologist Steve Glazier