National News

Deadly Heat Wave Settles Over South

Posted August 14, 2007
Updated August 15, 2007

— After four days of relatively mild August weather, searing heat is expected to return to North Carolina Wednesday.

Forecasts call for temperatures in the Triangle to approach 100 on Wednesday, to top that mark on Thursday and come close to 100 again on Friday.

State officials have issued a Code Orange ozone alert for the area – as well as Fayetteville, Charlotte and the Triad region – on Wednesday. Children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are urged to limit outdoor activities.

WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said low humidity levels on Monday and Tuesday made temperatures in the mid-90s feel comfortable. But humidity will return as the temperatures rise, she said, putting the heat index for the region at about 105 for Wednesday.

The Cumberland County Department of Social Services planned to open its Ramsey Street offices again this week to provide a cool place for residents at high risk of suffering heat-related problems. The offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday.

Meanwhile, the heat wave continues to bake other parts of the South, raising the number of heat-linked deaths in Tennessee to at least five and buckling roads in Mississippi.

The temperature in Memphis hit at least 100 degrees again Tuesday, the fifth consecutive day of triple-digit highs, as hot air blanketed the south-central portion of the nation. Monday's top reading in the city was 105.

"This is unusual. Last summer we had two (heat-related deaths) all summer. This is five deaths over a six-day period," Shelby County Medical Examiner Karen E. Chancellor said.

The heat-related deaths have involved people in homes with no air conditioning or those who had been active outdoors. The latest two were a 75-year-old man found in a home with no air conditioning and a 77-year-old woman found in her backyard, where she apparently had been gardening, Chancellor said. Both were found Monday.

The National Weather Service predicts Memphis temperatures will rise beyond the 100-degree mark through Friday.

Temperatures were in the 90s at midday Tuesday from the western Plains to the East Coast, with scattered readings of 100. On Monday, thermometers registered above 100 in parts of Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Nebraska, Mississippi and Kansas, the Weather Service said.

Excessive heat warnings were issued for southwestern Tennessee, northern Mississippi, parts of western Arkansas and most of Missouri, where temperatures topped 100 degrees. Much of the rest of the South was under a heat advisory.

The blistering conditions buckled busy highways in Jackson and Vardaman, Mississippi, snarling traffic, officials said.

ICS Head Start closed 19 preschool facilities in parts of Mississippi until next Monday, citing the heat, said Arvern Moore, the program's executive director.

On Alabama's Gulf Coast, where temperatures have mostly stayed in the upper 90s, the heat is causing problems for Hurricane Katrina survivors.

Jim Fuller, who works with Katrina victims along the coast, said many victims are still living in damaged homes that have not been repaired, or in trailers.

"Some people are still living in houses with tarps over the roof," Fuller said.

South Carolina, Missouri and Mississippi have each reported one heat-related death, and Illinois blamed three deaths on the heat since Thursday. Officials in Alabama and Kentucky said the heat may have been to blame for one death in each state, but that had not yet been confirmed.

--

Associated Press writers Bob Johnson in Montgomery, Alabama, and Holbrook Mohr in Jackson, Mississippi contributed to this report.

43 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Fair Tax Now Aug 15, 2007

    I tis in ym rac all the tmie. It hatsn ffecadet me at lal.

  • RIP- Yogi Bear Aug 15, 2007

    I think you're correct there JB

  • jbtilley Aug 15, 2007

    Yeah, just checked. The "normal" for this time of year is 87 degrees as a high. There must have been several 77 degree days to offset the "truer to normal" 97 degrees we typically get every August.

  • RIP- Yogi Bear Aug 15, 2007

    Every August in NC that I've ever encountered has had tempratures in the 90 range and it's not uncommon for it to get above 100 on occasion. I don't know what all the fuss is about these days. Back in 83 84 and 85 I recall we were let out of class in the beginning of they year because it was very hot and some of the schools had not been introduced to A/C at that point. I think that we've all gotten spolied from A/C and forgotten what hot weather really is like.

  • TruthBKnown Aug 15, 2007

    "It's a dry heat. Yeah.......... so is an oven"

    I was in Vegas a few years ago in August. It was 114 degrees. When I would tell people how hot it was, they would say, "Yeah, but it's a dry heat." My response was always, "So is fire."

  • jbtilley Aug 15, 2007

    "After four days of relatively mild August weather"

    I must have missed those. When was the last time the daily high was below or even at average for this time of year?

    Then again the daily averages must take the ice age into account. What is it currently at 88 degrees? I think it's been above 90 degrees every day in the month of August for every August that I can remember.

  • papa jim Aug 15, 2007

    Why all this media cover stories about it being hot. DUH, it is AUGUST

  • ladyblue Aug 15, 2007

    GG- Tell it like it is. My dog went everywhere with me too unless the temp was too hot. People cannot understand. FOLKS JUST TURN YOUR SWITCH OFF THE CAR IN PARKING LOT AND SIT THERE. CRACK THE WINDOWS. WHEN THE AIR CONDITIONER FROM YOUR CAR GIVES OUT INSIDE THAT CAR YOU WOULDN'T HAVE MADE IT TO THE DOOR OF THE STORE. IT ONLY TAKES A COUPLE MINUTES TO DAMAGE A PERSONS OR ANIMALS BRAIN. AFTER THAT A FEW MORE MINUTES AND YOU HAVE DEATH. I'm staying in until the cows come home and I don't have any cows.

  • doodad Aug 15, 2007

    Ladies, ONE good thing about this awful humidity in the south is less rinkles. Hot & dry or chapped & frigid will ruin your skin. Don't forget the sunscreen!

  • GoHeelsfromCali Aug 15, 2007

    It's a dry heat. Yeah.......... so is an oven

More...