New Report: U.S. to Experience Increased Heat

July 24, 2019

A  new report, “Killer Heat in the United States: Climate Choices and the Future of Dangerously Hot Days,” predicts a hotter future for the entire United States as people will experience more days of dangerous heat over the coming decades. The U.S. Southeast region will be the hardest hit by potentially lethal heat.

The predicted impact of increasingly more hot days in Georgia is:
 
  • Historically, there have been 79 days per year on average with a heat index above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the worker safety threshold. This would increase to 127 days per year on average by midcentury and 153 by the century’s end.
  • Historically, there have been 16 days per year on average with a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This would increase to 70 days per year on average by midcentury and 104 by the century’s end. Of the cities with a population of 50,000 or more in the state, Albany, Brunswick, Hinesville and Valdosta would experience the highest frequency of these days. 
  • By the end of the century, an estimated 9.6 million people in the state would be exposed to a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for the equivalent of two months or more per year. 
  • Historically, there has been an average of four days per year with a heat index above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. This would increase to 39 days per year on average by midcentury and 77 by the century’s end. 
  • By the end of the century, an estimated 9.6 million people would be exposed to a heat index above 105 degrees Fahrenheit for the equivalent of a month or more per year.
  • Historically, the state as a whole has experienced zero “off-the-charts” heat days in an average year. This would increase to two days per year on average by midcentury and 10 by the end of the century. 
  • By the end of the century, an estimated 4.8 million people would endure “off-the-charts” heat days for the equivalent of a week or more per year. Historically, fewer than 2,000 people nationwide have experienced such conditions in an average year.
The report includes a range of preparedness recommendations for governments, including: investing in heat-resilient infrastructure; creating heat adaptation and emergency response plans; expanding funding for programs to provide cooling assistance to low- and fixed-income households; directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to set up protective occupational standards for workers during extreme heat; requiring utilities to keep power on for residents during extreme heat events; and investing in research, data tools and public communication to better predict extreme heat and keep people safe.

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