Dangerous Heat and Humidity in Illinois

The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a variety of heat warnings and advisories for Illinois this week. The combination of temperatures in the upper 90s and high levels of humidity mean a greater risk of heat-related illnesses and death.

One measure that combines both the effects of temperature and humidity is the heat index. Explanations of the heat index can be found on Wikipedia and NWS. Below is a chart showing the heat index for a given temperature and relative humidity. If you like to do your own calculations, here is the NWS heat index calculator.

While the heat index incorporates relative humidity to give a better idea of what the temperature feels like, there are some important underlying assumptions. It assumes a person who is 5′ 7″, 147 lbs, walking at 3 mph, wearing long pants and a short-sleeve shirt, in the shade with a light breeze. It is estimated that working out in the sun would increase the heat index by 15°F.

Here are some resources to consider for monitoring the heat and what to do during the current heat wave:

HEAT INDEX
RELATIVE HUMIDITY (%)
Temp. 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
110 136
108 130 137
106 124 130 137
104 119 124 131 137
102 114 119 124 130 137
100 109 114 118 124 129 136
98 105 109 113 117 123 128 134
96 101 104 108 112 116 121 126 132
94 97 100 103 106 110 114 119 124 129 135
92 94 96 99 101 105 108 112 116 121 126 131
90 91 93 95 97 100 103 106 109 113 117 122 127 132
88 88 89 91 93 95 98 100 103 106 110 113 117 121
86 85 87 88 89 91 93 95 97 100 102 105 108 112
84 83 84 85 86 88 89 90 92 94 96 98 100 103
82 81 82 83 84 84 85 86 88 89 90 91 93 95
80 80 80 81 81 82 82 83 84 84 85 86 86 87
Category Heat Index Possible heat disorders for people in high risk groups
Extreme Danger 130° or higher Heat stroke or sunstroke likely.
Danger 105 – 129° Sunstroke, muscle cramps, and/or heat exhaustion likely. Heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
Extreme Caution 90 – 105° Sunstroke, muscle cramps, and/or heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.
Caution 80 – 90° Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.

About Jim Angel

I have been the state climatologist for Illinois since 1997 and have worked at the Illinois State Water Survey since 1984.
This entry was posted in Climate Monitoring, Heat and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s