See the blistering heat of July on this map from NASA

It isn't over yet.
Ameya Paleja
North America heatmapNASA
  • A heat dome over the south central region raised temperatures in the U.S.
  • In some areas, temperatures felt were as high as 120oF (49oC)
  • Utah recorded >100oF (38oC) temperatures for a record 16 consecutive days

During the early days of July, NASA's monthly climate outlook warned that the temperatures across the U.S. would be much higher than average. As the month went by, millions of U.S. residents experienced heatwaves, and a recently released heatmap now provides visual cues on how bad the heat really was.

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July of 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on the planet. While we do not officially have the figures for 2022 yet, the plight of millions of people who found themselves at the receiving end of one heat wave after another, tells us what can be expected for July of 2022.

NASA's Earth Observatory Mission puts into the public domain images and discoveries about the climate and environment that the space agency's various missions and researchers put together. When the agency put together an animated map of temperatures recorded across the U.S. in July, the entire region remained in dark red, bringing back memories of how hot the days were.

How did NASA create the map?

The animation only shows the daily maximum surface air temperatures recorded across the Western hemisphere during the month. The map was created using satellite observations with temperatures predicted by the global model called the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS).

Using mathematical equations, the model represents physical processes in the atmosphere; the darkest areas indicate regions with temperatures above 104F (40oC), which in this case was everywhere from the west coast to the east.

The Earth Observatory webpage added that earlier in the month, a ridge of high pressure had developed in the central and eastern U.S., which resulted in establishing a heat dome in the south-central U.S. The phenomenon is called so since the high pressure prevents hot air from escaping, which then dries and warms the land surface. This, in turn, heats the athmosphere further.

What does the map tell us?

As seen on the map, temperatures in the Great Plains reached a blistering 115oF (46oC) while the heat index, the effective temperature felt by the human body, reached 120oF (49oC).

Utah reeled under high temperature for a record of 16 straight days, when temperatures remained in triple digits, a first since the National Weather Service began record keeping way back in 1874. Oklahoma was another state that saw temperatures exceed 100oF (38oC) for a consecutive record number of days.

In the Pacific Northwest, where homes lack air-conditioning, temperatures reached as high as 110oF (43oC) in Dallasport, Washington, while breaching the 114oF (46oC) mark in Medford, Oregon.

More than 100 million Americans were under heat advisories or warnings at one point when high temperatures reached the densely populated regions of the south and northeast, The Independent said in its report. Several heat-related deaths were later reported in the region. However, the heat wave is not over yet.

As temperatures begin to soar in the southern, central, and northeastern parts of the U.S., millions of Americans are under heat advisories again. When considering weather-related deaths, heat claims more lives than other weather extremes such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods as well as extreme cold.

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