A historic and deadly heat wave that has gripped much of the South for more than two weeks is expanding this week, with more than 76 million Americans in 15 states at risk of developing heat-related illnesses unless proper precautions are taken.
The heat wave has turned deadly for both humans and animals when a father and son from Florida died last Friday during a hiking trip in Texas’ Big Bend National Park. A police K9 in Shreveport, Louisiana, died of a heat-related injury Saturday while chasing down suspects last week, according to police there.
The FOX Forecast Center expects extreme temperatures to continue until at least the beginning of July.
More than 75 million covered by heat alerts
Heat alerts have been posted across much of Texas for two weeks, and those will continue for the foreseeable future. Last week, heat alerts expanded into parts of the Southwest and Southeast as the ridge of high pressure bringing the intense heat continued to grow.
On Tuesday, heat alerts grew again to include portions of the Midwest and mid-Mississippi Valley as temperatures there are expected to climb through the rest of the week.
The excessive heat will remain across the southern U.S. on Wednesday. Record-high temperatures are in jeopardy in places such as New Orleans and Alexandria in Louisiana, as well as Oklahoma City and Stillwater in Oklahoma.
The “feels-like” temperatures will also reach around 110 degrees.
It’s been so hot in Texas that roads have started to buckle and break.
The Texas Department of Transportation said it was working to make repairs to the Interstate 10 frontage road at Wayside after it buckled from the heat.
TxDOT said the I-10 eastbound frontage at Wayside and the I-10 entrance from Wayside were closed while repairs were underway.
Midwest heats up midweek
The heat will begin to build up into the Midwest by Thursday, with temperatures in Kansas City, Missouri, expected to hover around the century mark.
Memphis, Tennessee, is forecast to hit 101 on Thursday.
Records have been falling like dominos across Texas and parts of the South for days now, and as temperatures begin to creep up elsewhere, records in other states are now in jeopardy.
Stillwater, Oklahoma, could break its old daily record if temperatures hit 104 degrees on Thursday, and Springfield, Missouri, could also see a broken record if it hits 101 degrees.
Overall, the main driver of heat-related impacts differs across the region, with higher air temperatures in the deserts and High Plains/western Plains, and lower air temperatures but higher humidity and resultant heat indices to the east, both contributing to a significant risk of heat-related illnesses, according to the FOX Forecast Center.
Long-range forecasts indicate excessive heat will remain in these regions for at least the next several days.