Like people in Arizona, Kansas Citians enjoy 'dry' heat
The Kansas City Star
As bad as the heat wave has been in Kansas City and throughout the Midwest, it could have been a lot worse.
A second death on the Missouri side of the Kansas City area was confirmed Thursday by the Kansas City Health Department as being heat related. That man was born in 1948, the other born in 1956. There are eight suspected heat deaths.
But that compares remarkably with the 157 deaths attributed to the 1980 heat wave. Bill Snook, spokesman with the health department, explained that the difference between now and 32 years ago is moisture.
Moisture from the Gulf Stream in 1980 raised the dew point and the heat index in Kansas City making it feel much hotter then than now. The 17 consecutive days with temperatures of 102 degrees or higher actually felt more like 118 because of the dew point.
We have suffered through a string of 100-plus degree days, but the drought has made the difference, zapping the moisture from the Gulf Stream so that the area gets a dry heat similar to Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas. It enables people’s bodies to cool themselves through a natural process of sweat evaporation.
Snook cautions, however, that people without air conditioning in their homes should try to spend two to three hours in an air-conditioned environment to enable their bodies to recover more from the heat. He also advises that folks who need to work outside should do it in the morning when it is cooler and drink plenty of fluids.