LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — More than 100 million Americans are being warned to stay indoors if possible as high temperatures and humidity settle in over states stretching through parts of the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes and east to the Carolinas.
The National Weather Service Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, said Monday 107.5 million people will be affected by combination of heat advisories, excessive heat warnings and excessive heat watches through Wednesday.
The heat wave, which set several high temperature records in the West, the Southwest and into Denver during the weekend, moved east into parts of the Gulf Coast and the Midwest Monday and will expand to the Great Lakes and east to the Carolinas, the National Weather Service said.
St. Louis, Memphis, Minneapolis and Tulsa are among several cities under excessive heat warnings, with temperatures forecast to reach about 100 degrees Fahrenheit, accompanied by high humidity that could make conditions feel close to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
In Jackson, Mississippi, residents braved temperatures reaching 95 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday to complete their chores. Roger Britt, 67, ventured to a neighborhood garden in search of vegetables for dinner.
“It was so cold this past winter, so I know it’s going to be a hot summer,” he said.
Many municipalities announced plans to open cooling centers, including in Chicago, where officials started alerting residents Monday about where they could find relief from the heat. The city plans to open six community service centers on Tuesday and Wednesday and said in a news release that people could also cool off in 75 public libraries in the city.
The city stepped up efforts to respond to heat waves after more than 700 people, many of them elderly, died in a 1995 heat wave. The effort also comes after three women died in a senior housing facility during a brief heat wave last month, raising concerns about the city’s ability to respond to brutally hot weather.
In North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County, which includes Charlotte, the local government opened cooling stations and the area transit system was offering free rides to some of the locations.
And in South Carolina, poll workers are preparing for what could be one of the hottest primary election days ever on Tuesday, with highs forecast to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and humidity making it feel closer to 110.
Poll managers are trying to find ways to protect people who must stand outside to vote. One saving grace may be turnout for the midterm primaries are often much lower than presidential elections. Another is the state allowed early voting for the first time and more than 110,000 ballots have already been cast.
In Minneapolis, 14 schools that are not fully air-conditioned will shift to distance learning Tuesday while the city braces for temperatures in the high 90s. Schools were scheduled to finish on June 10 but a three-week teacher’s strike in April pushed the final day to June 24, to make up for the lost class time.
Excessive heat pushed the same schools into distance learning for three days during the final week of classes last year.
STAYING COOL IN THE RIG
Here are six tips from America Truck Driving School to help you stay cool and safe while driving this summer:
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
Always have plenty of water available and make sure to keep hydrated. Even with the A/C going in the cab, you may still get dehydrated when it’s hot outside. If you are lucky enough to have an auxiliary power unit, you can power a small A/C unit if you can’t idle your truck at night. With diesel prices at record levels, many do not want to spend that extra money. Additionally, some companies and local laws prevent idling. If you can, use a small fan or cooling blankets. There are also products that fit around the neck to keep the body cool at night or during the heat of the day.
Protect Yourself from the Sun
The truck’s cab will not completely protect you from the sun’s heat and UV rays. Your left arm and the left side of your face will usually get the worst of it, being next to the driver’s side window. Wear sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses and even a long-sleeve shirt to maximize your protection.
Check Tire Pressures Regularly
Hot roads can lead to more tire blowouts. Always check your tire pressure at each stop to ensure that your tires are properly inflated so that you can minimize the chance of a blowout.
Cool it on the A/C
The cool air feels nice and is essential when it’s hot outside but be careful not just to crank up the air conditioning all the time. It burns more fuel and can risk overheating the engine. Find a comfortable temperature, stay hydrated and use the protection to help stay cool in the cab.
Be Aware of a Driver Influx
Summer also brings a lot of vacationers traveling all over the country. This means many more drivers and cars will be on the roads, at truck stops, and at rest areas. Be respectful of other drivers and be mindful of your big truck at all times on the road.
Watch the Weather Forecasts
Just like you would during a stormy winter, you want to check the weather forecasts for anywhere you are driving in the summer. This will help keep you prepared. Afternoon thunderstorms are common in different parts of the country during the summer months, so be extra careful in those conditions.
The Trucker Staff contributed to this report.
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