A rare Level 4 risk was issued for the northwestern part of our mountains and parts of Virginia – the last time one was issued there was in 2005.
Extreme heat and the severe weather threat will build throughout Monday afternoon. A heat advisory is in effect for the Triangle and areas to the south and east.
WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said storms will move in a line from west to east. Storms are not expected to roll into the western parts of our viewing area until around 4 p.m., and the storms will arrive in the Triangle around 5 or 6 p.m.
The biggest threat will be dangerous, damaging straight-lined winds, which can cause as much damage as a tornado.
“These should be taken seriously,” Gardner said.
The severe storms bring potential for heavy, damaging winds up to 40 to 60 mph, quarter-sized hail and isolated tornadoes. There’s also potential for frequent lightning.
Futurecast shows storms beginning to impact the Triangle between 5 and 6 p.m., then rolling through around 6 and 7 p.m. Even as late as 11 p.m., there could still be storms in the Triangle area, according to Futurecast.
Aside from the storms, Monday also brings a heat index of up to 107 degrees.
The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for of multiple counties, including Halifax County, Wake County, Cumberland County and Johnston County.
The advisories are expected to last from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday.
The rest of the week will be hot, with highs in the low 90s.
Tuesday and Wednesday should be clear before a 40% chance for storms on Thursday.
Extreme heat poses threat for back-to-school
Jordan Clark, a postdoctoral associate for the Heat Policy Innovation Hub who studies the effects of extreme heat, said there are specific risks to athletes outdoors, especially at the beginning of the season.
Clark said because athletes vary in their offseason activities – some may work outdoors while others are indoors for most the summer – there can be widespread variation in how acclimated each person is to heat. That is something that coaches must account for.
Clark recommended that anyone who must spend time outdoors in extreme heat, especially athletes who will be exerting themselves, gradually increase that time and activity.
“Bodies are good at adapting to heat exposure,” he said.
Ashley Ward, director of the Heat Policy Innovation Hub at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability, described the extreme heat worldwide as a heat season, not simply a heat wave, and noted that there are specific risks for the very young, the very old and anyone who has to work outdoors.
The threat this summer is greater than normal because the atmosphere – and therefore the living things in it – has not had the normal chance to cool off overnight, Ward said.
Staying safe in the heat
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke pose threats in extreme heat. It’s important to stay hydrated, especially if you’re planning on spending time outdoors.
If possible, try to take breaks from the outdoors throughout the day or find a spot in the shade. If you notice your heart rate increasing significantly or you start to feel dizzy or nauseated, get to a cool place as soon as you can or find a shaded area. If you’re at the beach, it may help to put some ice or a cold beverage from the cooler on your pulse points to help cool your body down.
Access to air conditioning or cool water is key, Clark added.
The first step to warding off heat illness is hydration, with water a better source than sports drinks which can contain sugar.
Those who live without air conditioning or can’t take breaks indoors should have plenty of access to cool water.
“A cool shower can do wonders to cool down the body,” Ward said.
Immersing the feet past the ankles in cool water also works, she said. In the military, where it does not make sense to remove boots during hot weather training, experiments have shown that immersing the arms past the elbows also has a cooling effect.
A reminder for pet owners: It is illegal to leave a dog outside without access to adequate food, water and shelter. Animals can die in the extreme heat. Consider keeping your pet inside during these dangerously hot days.
Ways to cool off with the kids
With scorching temperatures this week prompting excessive heat warnings, families will look for ways to stay cool.
Is there anything in the tropics right now?
Meteorologists are watching two systems in the Atlantic.
One is a low pressure system offshore the Mid-Atlantic. That system has dissipated significantly since Sunday and now has a 0% chance of development as it continues to pull away from the U.S.
The other is a low in the Central Atlantic. east of the Leeward Islands, which now has a 40% chance over the next two days and a 50% chance over the next seven days to develop into a tropical depression.
The next name on the list of hurricane names for this year is Emily.
The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30. The most active time is usually September through November, but it’s possible to see a hurricane make landfall any time of the year.