CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolinas are in the midst of the first heatwave of the year with temperatures well over 90 degrees expected through the weekend.
Thursday was the first 90-degree day of the year in Charlotte, while Cheraw, South Carolina, reported 90 degrees on Wednesday. Thursday could set a record high for May 20, with a forecast high of 96 degrees in the Queen City.
The scorching heat combined with a dome of high pressure over the Southeast created what's called a heat dome effect, which causes a steady increase in temperatures at the ground level due to warm air being trapped in the atmosphere.
It's not unusual for the Charlotte area to deal with this type of heat in mid-May.
On average, the first 90-degree day occurs on May 20. The earliest 90-degree day occurred on March 17 in the year 1945. The latest the heat stayed away was in 2003 when it didn't arrive until July 4.
The average summer temperature is warming in Charlotte.
A 2021 study on the average summer temperature from 1970 to 2020 showed a 2.4-degree increase for Charlotte.
According to Climate Central, about 95%, or 233, of the locations had an increase in their average summer temperature. Of those locations, 50%, or 122 locations, saw an increase of two degrees or more.
The highest weather-related killer is extreme heat. In addition, consecutive hot days during the summer months can cause several heat-related illnesses, especially for seniors and young children.
5 ways to beat the heat
1. Wear the right clothes
Experts say you should choose lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothes. Dr. Charles Bregier with Novant Health says not wearing the right clothing could put you at risk for heat stroke.
2. Pace yourself
You should limit your outdoor activity during extreme heat. Doctors recommend exercising early in the morning or later in the evening, when it's a little cooler.
3. Stay hydrated
Bregier says water is better for you than a sports drink. It's important to drink water throughout the day and not just when you're outside.
4. Wear sunscreen
Getting sunburn can impact your body's ability to cool itself. Experts recommend wearing SPF 30 and reapplying if you're outside for a long time.
5. Know the signs
Experts say it's critical to know the signs of heat stroke. Those symptoms include throbbing headache, not sweating, red, hot and dry skin and a body temperature above 103 degrees. Other symptoms are a rapid pulse and a loss of consciousness.
If you experience any of these while outdoors, you should call 911 immediately.
In terms of outdoor pools in Mecklenburg County, those facilities are expected to open to the public on Memorial Day weekend. The Mecklenburg Park and Recreation free fans for seniors program said donations will start in late June or early July.
Meanwhile, dangerous heat can be deadly for our pets. A good measure of whether the ground is too hot for animals is the" seven-second rule." Start by placing your hand on the ground for seven seconds, and if it's too hot for you, then it's too hot for your pet.
Animals should not be kept outside for long periods of time on hot days. When animals are outside, they should have access to water and shade.
An air temperature of 91 degrees translates to 125 degrees on concrete. For asphalt surfaces, it translates to 140 degrees.