The United States will see the development of an “extreme heat belt” over the next 30 years from Louisiana in the south to Lake Michigan in the north, across the American Midwest, according to a new report published Monday.
This region, which is home to more than 100 million Americans and covers a quarter of the country, will see at least one day of extreme heat per year in 2053, with a perceived temperature of more than 51°C, according to this report from the not-for-profit foundation. First Street.
Currently, this is the case for only about 50 US counties with 8 million people. Within 30 years, this will affect more than 1,000 counties, including 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 areas on the East Coast and southern California have been affected.
Heat is the deadliest weather phenomenon in the United States, before floods or hurricanes. It can lead to hospitalization and serious complications. It is especially dangerous in places not used to high temperatures – such as the northern United States.
The First Street Foundation based its forecast on a mild scenario from United Nations climate experts (IPCC), in which greenhouse gas emissions peak in the 1940s before declining.
Besides these extreme temperatures, the entire country must be warming. On average, the 7 hottest days of the year locally today will become the 18 hottest days in 30 years.
The number of “hazardous days”, defined in the report as days when the temperature almost reaches 38 degrees Celsius, will increase especially in the south of the country.
Around the Gulf of Mexico, many areas currently have about 100 days per year at this temperature, but are expected to have more than 120 days in 2053.
Heat waves, which see these sweltering days following one another uninterruptedly, should lengthen: In thirty years, large areas of Texas and Florida could see up to more than 70 consecutive days of 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 Ibe, founder of First Street, said in a statement. “The consequences will be dire.”