The National Weather Service in Kansas City has issued an excessive heat warning for the Kansas City metropolitan area and surrounding counties as the dangerously hot weather conditions continue to grip the region.
Heat index values are expected to climb as high as 110 degrees Thursday afternoon and then return to near 105 degrees on Friday afternoon, the weather service said in its warning.
Shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday, temperatures had climbed to 98 degrees at Kansas City International Airport, according to hourly weather observations. The heat index stood at 112 degrees, which already had exceeded the maximum that the weather service had listed in its warning.
Excessive heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer in the U.S., claiming an average of 138 lives per year in the U.S. from 1990 through 2019, according to the National Weather Service.
That’s higher than the average annual death tolls from flooding, 88, tornadoes, 65, and hurricanes or tropical storms, 45, in that 30-year-period.
The heat warning was issued for Atchison, Miami, Linn, Doniphan, Leavenworth, Wyandotte and Johnson counties in Kansas and Buchanan, Platte, Clay, Jackson, Cass, Johnson, Pettis, Bates, and Henry counties in Missouri.
“Extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or participating in outdoor activities,” the weather service said. “Cumulative effects of several days of heat will result in dangerous heat conditions.”
The weather service urged people to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left in unattended vehicles under any circumstances, the weather service said.
The Kansas City Health Department urged people not to use their fans as their primary source of cooling. If their homes don’t have air conditioning, health officials urged people to take cool showers and place cool towels on the neck, arm pits and head.
Using fans alone when the heat index exceeds 99 degrees can speed up the onset of heat-related illnesses, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“Generally, portable electric fans may not be a practical and safe cooling mechanism during an EHE (extreme heat event) in homes that are already hot and are not air-conditioned; their use should be discouraged unless the fans are bringing in significantly cooler air from outside the dwelling,” the EPA said.
People working or spending times outside should take extra precautions, the weather service said.
“When possible reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening,” the weather service said. “Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing when possible.”
Cooler weather is expected this weekend, with mid-80s expected Sunday and into next week. Overnight temperatures will dip into the lower 60s.