Biden administration launches one-stop shop for extreme heat advice as record-breaking temperatures continue

·2-min read
Biden administration launches one-stop shop for extreme heat advice as record-breaking temperatures continue

The Biden administration has launched a one-stop shop for information and advice on extreme heat, as more and more Americans face dangerously-high temperatures on a regular basis.

The new site, Heat.gov, will provide members of the public, employers and public officials with straightforward, science-based information to combat health and economic risks associated with extreme heat.

The site includes maps with real-time heat forecasts across localities, and alert levels. The site also features a Heat and Health Tracker, planning and preparedness guides, short and long-term forecasts and a “Heat Beat” newsletter for updates.

Extreme heat is dubbed the “silent killer”. More than 11,000 Americans have died from heat-related causes since 1979 – and that number is likely underestimated.

As with other climate and environmental impacts, extreme heat deaths disproportionately affect Native American and Black communities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Historically red-lined communities – those which were denied services because of race – are hotter today, noted Ali Zaidi, deputy White House national climate adviser, during a briefing call on Tuesday.

Mr Zaidi underlined the link between extreme heat and other climate impacts such as drought and wildfires, and pointed out the public health risks. Extreme heat sends 67,000 people to the emergency room each year in the US, and heat-related illnesses leave 9,000 people hospitalised annually.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said on Tuesday that such extreme weather was becoming more frequent, expensive and lethal. “This is one of the coolest summers of the rest of our lives,” she added.

Last week, President Joe Biden announced other plans to deal with extreme heat including $2.3bn for community grants to create cooling centres for vulnerable people.

The Department of Labor is developing new heat standards for workers and has been carrying out worksite inspections during extreme temperatures. Mr Zaidi said on Tuesday that some 70 US industries were impacted by extreme heat.

A dangerous heatwave descended on the US Pacific Northwest from Tuesday with triple-digit temperatures expected in some areas. Excessive heat warnings and advisories have been issued throughout the region along with portions of the Lower Mississippi Valley and Southern Plains.

Portland, Oregon, could top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8C) on Tuesday. Both Portland and Seattle are expected to reach the mid-to-upper 90Fs (32.2C) through Thursday with the possibility of temperature records being broken.

Temperatures in the Northeast broke on Monday after a week of soaring heat. Newark, New Jersey had experienced five days in a row of at least 100F, while Philadelphia hit 99F on Sunday – without accounting for humidity.

Greenhouse gas emissions, mostly caused by burning fossil fuels, are driving the extreme heat in the US, and across many parts of the world.

In recent weeks, extreme heat has also hit China, Pakistan, India, the United Kingdom and a number of European countries leading to wildfire outbreaks, buckled infrastructure, and hundreds of deaths.

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