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NWS debuts Heat Risk mapper

May 22, 2024

Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, the National Weather Service is launching a new Heat Risk forecast which will be a (7) day forecast to warn people of potentially long durations of dangerous heat events. The forecast will gauge how unusual the heat is for that time of year, how long the heat is expected to last, and if temperatures will pose any heat-related impacts.

The NWS is collaborating with The Centers of Disease Control to provide health guidance for those most vulnerable to heat and may need to take extra precautions for their health when the temperature rises. According to the CDC, more than 1,200 people die from heat related causes a year. That’s more than floods, tornadoes and hurricanes, combined.

The Memorial Day three-day weekend is just a few days away and if your plans include outdoor activities, expect hot temperatures across the state, with the possibility of thunderstorms in several locations.

The Panhandle can expect dry and warm conditions over the Memorial Day weekend, according to the National Weather Service, but heat indices could hit 100.

In North Florida, temperatures could hit the low to mid 90s by the weekend, according to NWS forecasters. There's a slight chance for rain over the Memorial Day weekend, but prepare for some hot temperatures in the low to mid 90s. The heat index could reach 100 to 104 by Memorial Day from the coast to the St. Johns river basin and north central Florida.
In Central Florida, there's a "limited risk for excessive heat" starting late this week and into the holiday weekend. Temperatures are forecast to climb into the 90s, with heat indices reaching the low to mid 100s, according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne.

The Heat Risk color table ranges from light green to deep purple. Level 0 is the lowest risk for heat related impacts. Magenta is Level 4 which poses an extreme risk to high heat. There are 5 Colored Index categories from Minimal to Extreme.

AUDIO INTERVIEW: Ken Graham-Director, NOAA’s National Weather Service

“Ten of the warmest years on record have occurred from 2014 on. So numerous studies have indicated heat waves. As you've already heard, heatwaves are getting hotter, longer, more frequent and you're getting less relief at night. So it's becoming increasingly serious.”

The NWS says it plans to work on messaging and social science feedback from the public to make sure the new Heat Risk forecast is easy for the public to understand. They also say it will be important to use social media as part of their awareness campaign to familiarize the public with this new forecasting tool.

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Sources include nearest National Weather Service office, National Hurricane Center, and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (@FloridaStorms).
Sources include nearby emergency management agencies, FEMA, and your local NPR affiliate. 
Sources include the Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Highway Patrol and other nearby traffic information.

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