NOAA's National Weather Service Heat Index Program
Considering this tragic death toll, the National Weather Service 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 Fahrenheit, is an accurate measure of how hot it really feels when the relative humidity (RH) is added to the actual air temperature.
To find the Heat Index, 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 relative humidity 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.
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.
Heat Index Chart
The "Heat Index/Heat Disorders" table relates ranges of HI with specific disorders, particularly for people in the higher risk groups.
Summary of NWS's Alert Procedures
The NWS will initiate alert procedures (advisories or warnings) when the Heat Index (HI) is expected to have a significant impact on public safety. The expected severity of the heat determines whether advisories or warnings are issued. A common guideline for the issuance of excessive heat alerts is when the maximum daytime HI is expected to equal or exceed 105°F and a nighttime minimum HI of 80°F or above for two or more consecutive days. Some regions and municipalities are more sensitive to excessive heat than others. As a result, alert thresholds may vary substantially from these guidelines. Excessive heat alert thresholds are being tailored at major metropolitan centers based on research results that link unusual amounts of heat-related deaths to city-specific meteorological conditions.
The alert procedures are:
Home | Contact Us | Fire Safety | Heat Waves | Hurricanes | Kids Page | Special Needs | Terrorism | Thunderstorms | Tornadoes
Designed by Jerren Saunders
Last Updated: June 12, 2002