NOAA’s National Weather Service Heat Index Program
Considering this tragic death toll, the National Weather Service (NWS) has stepped up its efforts to alert more effectively the general public and appropriate authorities to the hazards of heat waves-those prolonged excessive heat/humidity episodes.
Based on the latest research findings, the NWS has devised the “Heat Index” (HI), (sometimes referred to as the “apparent temperature”). The HI, given in degrees F, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature.
To find the HI, look at the Heat Index Chart. As an example, if the air temperature is 95°F (found on the left side of the table) and the RH is 55% (found at the top of the table), the HI-or how hot it really feels-is 110°F. This is at the intersection of the 95° row and the 55% column.
IMPORTANT: Since HI values were devised for shady, light wind conditions, EXPOSURE TO FULL SUNSHINE CAN INCREASE HI VALUES BY UP TO 15°F. Also, STRONG WINDS, PARTICULARLY WITH VERY HOT, DRY AIR, CAN BE EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS.
Heat Index/Heat Disorders: Possible heat disorders for people in higher risk groups.
Heat Index of 130° OR Higher: HEATSTROKE/SUNSTROKE HIGHLY HIGHER LIKELY WITH CONTINUED EXPOSURE,
Heat Index of 105°- 130°: SUNSTROKE, HEAT CRAMPS OR HEAT EXHAUSTION LIKELY, AND HEATSTROKE POSSIBLE WITH PROLONGED EXPOSURE AND/OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
Heat Index of 90°- 105°: SUNSTROKE, HEAT CRAMPS AND HEAT EXHAUSTION POSSIBLE WITH PROLONGED EXPOSURE AND/OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
Heat Index of 80° - 90°: FATIGUE POSSIBLE WITH PROLONGED EXPOSURE AND/OR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY
Note on the HI chart the shaded zone above 105°F. This corresponds to a level of HI that may cause increasingly severe heat disorders with continued exposure and/or physical activity.
The “Heat Index vs. Heat Disorder” table (next to the HI chart) relates ranges of HI with specific disorders, particularly for people in higher risk groups.
Summary of NWS’s Alert Procedures
The NWS will initiate alert procedures when the HI is expected to exceed 105°- 1 10°F (depending on local climate) for at least two consecutive days. The procedures are: