As if the situation around St. Louis wasn’t tense enough, temperatures will rise to scorching levels as a large atmospheric heat dome stalls over the central U.S. and South for five days.
The National Weather Service in St. Louis has hoisted an excessive heat warning for metropolitan St. Louis, including Ferguson, beginning 1 p.m. this afternoon (central time) and remaining in effect until 7 p.m. Sunday. It is calling for a “dangerous” combination of heat and humidity.
This extended heat wave is forecast to deliver highs in the upper 90s and lows in the mid-to-upper 70s. Factoring in oppressive humidity, afternoon temperatures will feel as hot as 107.
“The long duration of afternoon/early evening heat index values around 105 degrees will cause life threatening conditions for those that do not have access to air conditioning,” says the National Weather Service.
The heat is likely to come as a shock after a relatively cool stretch, with just one 90-degree day so far this August in St. Louis. It could be the longest and most intense heat wave of the summer.
Residents are being urged to take it easy.
“The likely combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will lead to an increased risk of heat-related stress and illness,” the National Weather Service cautions. “The very young, the elderly, those without air conditioning, and those participating in strenuous outdoor activities will be the most susceptible.”
According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 1,075 people died from heat-related causes between 1980 and 2013. The majority of the deaths occurred in urban areas around St. Louis City, St Louis County and Jackson County (Kansas City).
In addition to posing health risks, hot weather has repeatedly been linked to upticks in violent crime in studies.
“If you plot crime and temperature together you get a straight line up,” Dr. Scott Sheridan, a climatology professor at Kent State University, told CBS News in 2012. “Some of the reason is increase in aggressive behavior, but a lot of it has to do with more people interacting with each other when the weather is warmer.”
Beyond the stifling heat in St. Louis, the heat dome will deliver some of the hottest weather of the summer into the South and Southeast U.S. through the weekend.
Additional reading, via USA Today: Summer’s last gasp to roast South