Temperatures have soared into the 90s for the past week, and weather forecasters say the heat is here to stay.
South Boston was under a heat advisory on Monday and Tuesday, with the heat index breaking the 100-degree mark. After enduring a week of high temperatures reaching the 90s, South Boston residents can expect another week of stifling heat and humidity with high temperatures forecast to climb into the 90s every day.
“We’ve got a large high-pressure system in the upper levels of the atmosphere, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. It’s definitely a little bit warmer than what it normally would be,” said Robert Beasley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.
Beasley said the typical high temperature for mid-July in the Southside area is 89, but it is unusual to have such a long stretch of days with high temperatures reaching the 90s. He added the high level of humidity drives up the heat index.
“The humidity is so high it pushes the heat index up to 100 or 105, and that is getting into dangerous levels,” Beasley cautioned.
When the heat and humidity is high, Beasley said it’s best to stay in an air-conditioned building and avoid being outdoors in the direct sunlight during the heat of the day, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. If it’s not possible to stay in an air-conditioned facility, Beasley advised using a fan to circulate the air. Avoiding strenuous outdoor activity such as mowing grass in the heat of the day also is key to preventing heat-related illnesses.
“Any kind of strenuous outdoor activity should be delayed until the evening or early morning hours,” Beasley said. “Take it easy. There’s an old saying, ‘Trade a lawnmower in the sun for a lawn chair in the shade.’”
Steve Dishman, emergency services coordinator for Halifax County, offered additional tips for staying safe in extreme heat.
“The biggest thing is don’t be outside unless you absolutely have to. Stay out of the direct sunlight as much as you can,” Dishman said. “Stay hydrated. Know the signs and symptoms (of heat-related illnesses). If you feel weak or lightheaded, go somewhere cool.”
Dishman added those at higher risk of heat-related illnesses such as those with health conditions should reach out to a family member or the social services department for assistance on how to protect themselves from the heat.
When a heat advisory is in effect, the National Weather Service also recommends wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, taking frequent breaks in the shade or an air-conditioned environment when doing outdoor work, and avoiding leaving children or pets unattended in vehicles.
The highest odds of relief from the heat for Halifax County residents this week is on Thursday and Friday, with a good chance of afternoon showers and thunderstorms both days, Beasley said. The respite will be short, with temperatures climbing back to 90 the next day and slim chances of rain in the forecast until the following Friday, July 31.