Climate and Weather


What is a heat wave?

A heat wave is a period of two days in a row when apparent temperatures on the National Weather Service heat index exceed 105°F to 110°F (40°C to 43°C). Heat waves can be extremely dangerous. According to the National Weather Service, 175–200 Americans die from heat in a normal summer. Between 1936 and 1975, as many as 15,000 Americans died from problems related to heat. In 1980, 1,250 people died during a brutal heat wave in the Midwest. In 1995, more than 500 people died in the city of Chicago from heat-related problems. A majority of these individuals were the elderly living in high-rise apartment buildings without proper air conditioning. Large concentrations of buildings, parking lots, and roads create an “urban heat island” in cities with higher temperatures than the surrounding open, rural areas.


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