These maps show how hot your neighborhood can be by mid-century, and when

These maps show how hot your neighborhood can be by mid-century, and when

These maps show how hot your neighborhood can be by mid-century, and when

Right now, there are only a few places in the US where the heat index is likely to exceed 125 degrees Fahrenheit, a particularly dangerous threshold for human health. But by mid-century, a much larger area is at risk, stretching from the Gulf Coast through a swath of the center of the country and reaching as far north as southern Wisconsin.

A new report pinpoints where it could happen, along with the increased risk of extreme heat, heat waves, and more common (but still risky) temperatures that exceed local norms. In a new tool, you can type in any US address and see the heat risks in your neighborhood now and by mid-century. It’s part of Risk Factor, a broader climate risk tool that also shows the risk of flooding or wildfires for any US address.

A map of the United States, with the southern and coastal regions generally shaded darker red than the mountainous and northern regions.
Maximum monthly temperature hazard 2023, 32 degrees F to 119 degrees F (light to dark) [Image: courtesy First Street Foundation]

Researchers call the area at risk for a worst-case scenario the belt of extreme heat. “Currently, there are only about 50 counties that have an estimate of reaching a heat index of 125 degrees in the current environment,” says Jeremy Porter, director of research for the First Street Foundation, the nonprofit that created the tool. . “But by 2053, that will grow to around 1,000 counties. . . It goes from having around 8 million people today potentially exposed to that level of heat to around 108 million in 30 years.”

A county-by-county map of the United States, with interior California and southern counties shaded darker red than northern and midwestern counties.  Counties along the Gulf Coast are particularly deep red.
Change in days above 100 degrees F, 2023 to 2053. 0-41 days (light to dark) [Image: courtesy First Street Foundation]

When it’s this hot, it’s dangerous to be outside. “A heat index of 125 is that level where our body is unable to cool itself down for an extended period of time,” says Zachary Schlader, a professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health who studies the impact of heat on the human body. Body. “What would happen is that the temperature inside the body will continue to rise, unless you can escape from that environment.”

Of course, lower levels of heat can also be deadly for vulnerable people or people who have to work outdoors. And it’s already very hot. The summer of 2022 has broken heat records in the US. In Salt Lake City, temperatures soared to over 100 degrees in 18 days in July. Austin had 29 triple-digit days that month (and another 22 in May and June). Newark, New Jersey has experienced four straight heat waves since the end of June. And cities like Boston, Denver and Portland, Maine have broken daily heat records.

But as climate change makes heat waves longer and more intense, this summer is likely to be cooler than most you’ll experience in your lifetime. The tool shows the current heat risks in American cities and how the heat will increase in each location. “Heat ends up killing more people than any other [weather disaster]Porter says. According to one estimate, heat contributed to 1,577 deaths in the US in 2021, but the number may be even higher; heat exacerbates other conditions, such as heart disease, and the heat link is often not officially reported as the cause of death.

In the report, the research team looked at how many days each year each location has a heat index of more than 100 degrees. They also calculated how the number of these “hazardous days” will change by 2053, based on data sets from the federal government and others, combined with heat models. In Miami-Dade County, for example, there will be an additional 41 triple-digit days each year by mid-century. The number of heat waves will also increase, with several days of extreme heat.

The researchers also mapped “local warm days,” or days above the local 98th percentile temperature. Someone who lives in a place where it is generally colder, like Seattle, might start to see health impacts at a lower temperature than someone who lives in Phoenix who is more acclimatized to the heat (that person who lives in a region historically warmer). cold is also less likely to have air conditioning). Someone planning to move might use the reconsider tool. For each address, the report also calculates how much more someone will spend on air conditioning bills in the future. “Your energy bills are going to go up a lot higher,” says Porter.

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