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Friday, July 12, 2024

Surviving the Swelter: Understanding the summer heat

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Indianapolis recently faced an intense heat wave, prompting residents to rethink how to stay cool and safe. The extreme temperatures have raised fresh concerns about climate change’s influence on local weather patterns and how to adapt to even hotter summers.

The late June heat wave is a symptom of a larger problem. According to a study from the academic journal “Nature,” the summer of 2024 is on track to be even hotter than that of 2023, which broke a 2,000-year-old record. The record has made its way into the Circle City, creating an uncharacteristically early heat wave that had Hoosiers sweating.

Aaron Updike, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, agrees.

“We are warmer than usual for this time of year,” Updike said. “Eighty-five is the average high, so we are about 5 to 10 degrees above normal.”

Indiana was one of several states experiencing an early rise in temperatures. Nearly 65 million Americans were under heat alerts in the Midwest and Northeast, according to the National Weather Service. In the Southwest, temperatures reached a peak of 113 degrees, sparking wildfires and threatening droughts.

The Nature Conservancy, Indiana’s largest nonprofit dedicated to identifying solutions to address the impacts of climate change, is warning residents about wildfires.

“Indiana may not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking about wildfires,” The Nature Conservancy wrote on their official website, “but extreme heat, drought, and dry vegetation have caused areas across the country to be at an increased risk. All three of those factors can be traced back to climate change.”

The Nation Weather Service chalks up the rise in temperatures to an area of high pressure over the East Coast. This pressure pushes hot air over towards the Midwest region, making it uncharacteristically warm. Meteorologists like Updike are waiting for a break in this pressure to see things cool off.

Scattered storms and clouds throughout Indiana’s heat wave broke up some of the effects of the heat wave, but citizens still need to take precautions.

“Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of your body,” said Jacob Spence, emergency management director for the Metropolitan Emergency Services Agency.

There are several cooling centers located in central Indiana.

  • Washington Park Family Center, 3130 East 30th Street, Indianapolis IN, 46218
  • Brookside Park Family Center, 3500 Brookside Parkway South Dr.
  • Frederick Douglass Park Family Center, 1616 East 25th St.
  • John Boner Neighborhood Centers, 2236 East 10th St.
  • Windsor Village Park Family Center, 6510 East 25th St.
  • Christian Park and Family Center, 4200 English Ave.
  • Horizon House, 1033 E. Washington St.
  • Pride Park Family Center, 1129 Vandeman St.
  • Watkins Park Family Center, 2630 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St.
  • Stanley Strader Park and Family Center, 2850 Bethel Ave.

For more information about cooling centers and Indiana heat advisories, visit in211.org.

Contact Staff Writer Hanna Rauworth at 317-762-7854 or follow her on Instagram at @hanna.rauworth.

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