United States: in 30 years, an “extreme heat belt” will cover the center of the country

The forecasts of the NGO First Street Foundation are frightening. The United States will see the development within 30 years of an “extreme heat belt” from Louisiana, in the south of the country, to Lake Michigan in the north, crossing the American Midwest, according to a new report published on Monday . This zone, where more than 100 million Americans live and which covers a quarter of the country, will experience in 2053 at least one day of extreme heat per year, with a temperature felt of more than 51 ° C, according to this report from the not-for-profit organization First Street Foundation.

Currently, this is the case for only about 50 US counties with 8 million people. In 30 years, this will concern more than 1,000 counties, notably in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, and even southern Wisconsin. The Midwest is particularly affected due to its distance from the sea, the report notes, although other smaller regions on the East Coast and in southern California are also affected. Heat is the weather phenomenon that kills the most in the United States, ahead of floods and hurricanes. It can lead to hospitalizations and serious complications. It is especially dangerous in places not accustomed to high heat — such as the northern United States.

Towards an increase in the number of “dangerous days”

The First Street Foundation based its projections on a moderate scenario from United Nations climate experts (IPCC), in which greenhouse gas emissions peak in the 2040s before declining. Beyond these extreme temperatures, the whole country must warm up. On average, the hottest 7 days of the year locally today will become the hottest 18 days in 30 years. The number of “dangerous days”, defined in the report as days when the temperature almost reaches the felt 38°C, will particularly increase in the south of the country.

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Around the Gulf of Mexico, many regions currently have about 100 days per year at this temperature, but are expected to have more than 120 in 2053. Heat waves, which see these very hot days follow one another without interruption, are also expected to increase. extend: in thirty years, large regions of Texas and Florida may experience up to more than 70 consecutive days around 38°C.

The report assessed these changes on a very detailed scale, in order to allow residents, businesses and managers to anticipate their response locally. “We must prepare for the inevitable,” Matthew Eby, founder of First Street Foundation, said in a statement. “The consequences are going to be terrible. »

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