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What Causes a Heat Wave?

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What Causes a Heat Wave?

The Farmers’ Almanac is calling for hotter-than-normal conditions for many regions of the U.S. and Canada this summer. The unseasonably warm many of us are seeing is just a foretaste of what may be in store over the coming months. Depending on how you feel about heat, that may or may not be welcome news.

But what causes a heatwave, anyway? Why can we have a wet, chilly summer one year and a sizzler the next? Or even between one week and the next?

What Causes A Heat Wave?

A heatwave occurs when a system of high atmospheric pressure moves into an area and lasts two or more days. In such a high-pressure system, air from upper levels of our atmosphere is pulled toward the ground, where it becomes compressed and increases in temperature.

This high concentration of pressure makes it difficult for other weather systems to move into the area, which is why a heatwave can last for several days or weeks. The longer the system stays in an area, the hotter the area becomes. The high-pressure inhibits winds, making them faint-to-nonexistent. Because the high-pressure system also prevents clouds from entering the region, sunlight can become punishing, heating up the system even more. The combination of all of these factors come together to create the exceptionally hot temperatures we call a heatwave.

Heat Waves Can Be Deadly

While the phrase “dangerous weather” may conjure up images of blizzards, hurricanes or tornadoes, it’s important to remember that heatwaves can be deadly. During a heatwave, you can protect yourself by staying out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day, avoiding strenuous activities, and keeping yourself hydrated with plenty of fresh water.

And when humidity and dew points are high along with the temperatures, things can get very uncomfortable!

Crow about the weather!


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13 comments

1 ClimateYou – Heat Waves by City Tech Blogger Ryan Chen { 11.06.19 at 4:08 pm }

[…] “What Causes a Heat Wave?” Farmers’ Almanac, 5 Aug. 2019, http://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. […]

2 Heat Wave Hysteria? The Truth Shall Set You Free – Chris Martz Weather 🌀 { 08.03.19 at 12:52 pm }

[…] [2] McLeod, Jamie. “What Causes a Heat Wave?” Farmers Almanac. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. […]

3 Connecting Dots 30 July 2019 { 07.30.19 at 10:39 am }
4 Heatwave Hysteria? It’s Called Summer – Menopausal Mother Nature { 07.21.19 at 5:37 pm }

[…] [2] McLeod, Jamie. “What Causes a Heatwave?” Farmers Almanac. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. […]

5 Heat Wave Hysteria? The Truth Shall Set You Free – The Great Climate Debate { 07.21.19 at 3:50 pm }

[…] [2] McLeod, Jamie. “What Causes a Heat Wave?” Farmers Almanac. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. [3] “Chapter 6: Temperature Changes in the United States.” CSSR. 2017. Accessed July […]

6 Heatwave Hysteria? It's Called Summer | Global Climate { 07.21.19 at 1:25 pm }

[…] [2] McLeod, Jamie. “What Causes a Heatwave?” Farmers Almanac. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. […]

7 Warmth Wave Hysteria? The Fact Shall Set You Unfastened – Daily News { 07.21.19 at 10:52 am }

[…] [2] McLeod, Jamie. “What Reasons a Warmth Wave?” Farmers Almanac. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. […]

8 Heat Wave Hysteria? The Truth Shall Set You Free | Watts Up With That? { 07.21.19 at 9:00 am }

[…] [2] McLeod, Jamie. “What Causes a Heat Wave?” Farmers Almanac. Accessed July 19, 2019. https://www.farmersalmanac.com/what-causes-a-heat-wave-10912. […]

9 A Surge in Deadly Heat Waves Caused By Global Warming Could Kill Five times More People in U.S., Study Warns | Freshly Vibes { 07.31.18 at 5:56 pm }

[…] heat waves result air to the ground, where it warms up during its journey. The high pressure can inhibit the […]

10 How Does Extreme Heat Kill You? – Good Medic { 04.23.17 at 11:25 am }

[…] What Causes a Heat Wave? […]

11 Heat Waves – I'm in Miami { 04.02.17 at 9:13 pm }
12 How Does Extreme Heat Kill You? - Skeptic.live | Skeptic.live { 03.22.16 at 7:31 am }

[…] Causes A Heat Wave? http://farmersalmanac.wpengine.com/weather/2010/04/12/what-causes-a-heat-wave/ “The Farmers’ Almanac is calling for hotter-than-normal conditions for many regions of the U.S. […]

13 How Does Extreme Heat Kill You? Currently, there is a heat wave… | Scientiflix { 06.13.15 at 6:40 pm }

[…] What Causes A Heat Wave? […]

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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