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CNN Today

Heath Wave Punishes Southeast, Central Plains

Aired July 17, 2000 - 2:08 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you can say the summer heat is getting out of hand. Much of the country cannot seem to escape the punishing and potentially deadly mix of high temperatures and little rain. The heat wave is hitting Texas particularly hard.

And here's meteorologist Orelon Sidney with more about that -- Orelon.

ORELON SYDNEY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Thanks a lot.

This time of year, of course, we set up a ridge in the upper atmosphere which tends to give you hot some very temperatures across the central plains and parts of the Southeast. This year has been unusual, though. In the year 2000, the first six months the warmest since records have been kept back in the 1800s. This from the National Weather Service.

And it looks like the heat will continue as we see heat advisories for many parts of the nation. When your heat index gets up to about 105 degrees, watch out for sun stroke, heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is also possible with prolonged exposure and physical activity.

A couple of spots to watch today for these very high heat index temperatures. Look at that: up to 120 degrees, Mobile, New Orleans, whose current heat index is 109 degrees, Lake Charles, Austin, and even up to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, my old stomping ground.

Right now, Greg Fields from WFAA is going to join us and tell us, Greg, just how hot is it?

GREG FIELDS, WFAA METEOROLOGIST: Well, I'll tell you what, Orelon: As of 1:00 here local time, just after 1:00 now, we are sitting at 99 degrees. So it's pretty safe to say that this will be the sixth consecutive day of the triple-digit heat for us here in North Texas.

SYDNEY: What has been the major problem for you? Is it mostly people -- obviously some folks don't have air conditioning. Is that mostly the problem that you're seeing, or just folks out and about during the daytime?

FIELDS: Well, of course we always try to caution folks to don't stay out too much during the late afternoon and early evening hours. If you do have to be out and about, you want to get out in the early morning. And that does seem to be a big problem. Also, we are trying to get the word out to make sure that you check on the very young and the elderly, make sure everyone does have a lot of fans.

So far, though, we've only heard of two heat-related deaths. So it hasn't been as bad as it has been in the past, or certainly not as bad as it could be.

SYDNEY: That's good. That's really a good thing. How unusual is it for this part of Texas? Or is it unusual at all?

FIELDS: Oh, as you talked about that upper ridge setting in place, this is very typical for this time of year. And, actually, this summer hasn't been that bad. We had our first triple-digit heat day back last Wednesday on the 12th, and it has been over 100 everyday since then. But up until now, we've had a lot of rain. It has been a relatively mild summer, but then once the rain stopped, that ridge set in, things got hot awful fast, and looks like it's going to stick around for a while to come, too.

SYDNEY: I think, though, they're asking me here when it's going to cool off, and I'm thinking, you know, October. Isn't that a pretty good time?

FIELDS: Well, you know, we do have some relief in sight heading into the weekend, maybe Friday and Saturday. We're talking about daytime highs only around 99 degree. So maybe a bit of a break then.

SYDNEY: All right, nice and cool as we go into the weekend.

FIELDS: Yes, exactly.

SYDNEY: Greg Fields from WFAA, thanks a lot for joining us.

FIELDS: OK.

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