July 20 (UPI) — Severe weather since Friday night has already left more than 300,000 customers without power, and more damaging and drenching thunderstorms will target the Midwest and Northeast through Monday before relief from the sweltering heat arrives.
A derecho, a thunderstorm complex that produces a continuous line of wind damage, barreled from South Dakota to areas along the border of Minnesota and Iowa earlier Saturday.
Additional wind damage may occur as other severe thunderstorms threaten areas from Iowa and Wisconsin to the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York through Saturday night.
Restoration of power can further be delayed or new issues can develop across Michigan and Wisconsin, where most of the power outages have been reported.
A separate area of severe weather is expected to erupt over eastern Colorado through the evening hours of Saturday.
“When an unusually strong cold front moves into an unusually hot and humid air mass, severe weather can be expected,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty, “and that will be the case through Monday.”
“The strongest thunderstorms will produce flooding downpours and damaging wind gusts,” he added.
On Sunday, the thunderstorms will slice into the sweltering heat over more of the Northeast, Lower Midwest states and back to the central Plains.
“While any thunderstorm can unleash strong wind gusts within that corridor, the area at greatest risk stretches from Ohio to central and southern Illinois,” according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.
This includes the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, and Indianapolis.
Another more concentrated area of severe thunderstorms may develop over Missouri and eastern Kansas.
A road flooded in Greene township in northern Trumbull County, Ohio, after heavy rain moved through, there are radar estimates in the area of four to seven inches in the area.
Drenching and gusty thunderstorms will then focus on areas from the Ohio and Tennessee valleys to the Northeast on Monday. Once again, flash flooding and damaging winds will be concerns.
The greatest risk for severe weather is anticipated from Boston to New York City; Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa.; Baltimore and Washington, D.C., during the afternoon and evening hours.
Even in the absence of severe weather, residents in the path of the thunderstorms through Monday will face disruptions to outdoor plans, travel delays and lightning dangers.
“In this type of situation, these thunderstorms will produce a significant amount of lightning,” Anderson said. “With people picnicking and doing other activities outdoors, they have to remember that trees and pavilions are not safe places to be during a thunderstorm.”
The first clap of thunder is nature’s warning that you can be struck by lightning and to seek shelter immediately.
A dramatic and much-welcome reduction in the sweltering heat and humidity will follow the slow-advancing line of downpours and thunderstorms. Temperatures first will be slashed, followed by the high humidity the next day.
The comfortable air will fully sweep over the Great Lakes and northern Plains by Monday before pressing over the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and Northeast Tuesday into Wednesday.
Less humid air may also make a rare July appearance southward to the Interstate-20 corridor at midweek.
The dangerous heat wave that is producing some of the highest temperatures in years in the eastern United States has already made its presence felt in the form of emergency and code red declarations and major event cancellations.
With temperatures surging into the triple digits for a large portion of the northeastern United States, officials in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston are imploring people to prepare for the heat wave this weekend.
Powerful July sunshine paired with a northward retreat of the jet stream are setting up the conditions for an impressive heat wave to build even for midsummer standards for many locations across the Northeast.
“It’s been since July of 2012 that Chicago and Philadelphia both hit 100 degrees, and Washington, D.C., hasn’t hit 100 since August of 2016,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Danielle Knittle said.
On Saturday, about 157 million people were under heat warnings and heat advisories.
Daytime temperatures will climb into the mid to upper 90s — and feel like 115 degrees — from the Great Plains to the East Coast.
Overnight temperatures won’t drop below 80 degrees in many cities across the East Coast, the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center said.
“Take the heat seriously,” the National Weather Service posted on Twitter on Friday, noting that heat is one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States.
In Detroit more than 200,000 people did not have power in the early morning after thunderstorms caused trees and branches to take down power lines, CNN reported. The heat index was expected to top 105 degrees Saturday.
On Tuesday, Washington, D.C., activated a heat emergency plan, and by Wednesday, Philadelphia and New York City declared emergencies as well. According to a press release from the office of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, approximately 500 cooling centers have been activated around the city.
Cooling centers offer air-conditioned spaces and bottled waters to provide ease from the heat. They’re typically activated during times of extreme heat.
Saturday horse races at New York’s Saratoga Race Course were also postponed.
The Salvation Army is making preparations for the heat wave by extending hours of operation, opening its doors to more people and extending the amount of time people are allowed to stay. The Salvation Army in St. Louis will also be offering fans for those who will need some relief. Homeless shelters across the Northeast are also opening their doors to a higher capacity during the heat wave, so people are able to dodge the heat.
“Almost everyone east of the Rockies is going to be sweltering in the dangerous heat in the coming days,” Knittle said.
In New York City, most heat-related deaths occur after exposure to heat in homes without air conditioners. Air conditioning is the best way to stay safe and healthy when it is hot outside, but some people at risk of heat illness do not have or do not turn on an air conditioner.
“Things people need to be aware and mindful of with the heat and ways they can protect themselves: wear light-colored, lightweight clothing; take frequent breaks if you have to spend a lot of time outdoors in the shade or preferably in an air conditioned place; keep hydrated and avoid alcohol; avoid the peak heating of the day between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; check in with elderly neighbors,” Knittle said.
People most at risk are those with chronic medical, mental health, cognitive or developmental conditions, take certain medicines that can affect body temperature, have limited mobility or are unable to leave their homes, are obese, or misuse alcohol or drugs.
It is important to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke as heatstroke is a medical emergency.
“If you don’t have air conditioning, then make plans to go somewhere that does to keep cool like a mall or movie theater. Never leave kids or pets in the car. If a child’s car seat is in the vehicle and the car is too hot to the touch for you, then it will be too hot for the child,” Knittle said.
Remember, during hot weather, never leave children and pets unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Car interiors can reach lethal temperatures very quickly; it takes only two minutes for a car to reach unsafe temperatures.
“With regards to pets, make sure they stay hydrated as well, and protect their paws if they’re outside as the pavement can burn them,” Knittle said.