Why It Feels Like We’re All Slowly Boiling to Death

AFP via Getty Images
AFP via Getty Images

If you are one of the millions of Americans who’ve felt like they’re being cooked alive amid extreme heat across the country this week, you kind of are.

The cruel weather phenomenon unleashing the scorching temps is referred to as a heat dome—and it’s a lot like heat getting trapped in a lidded pot you have cooking on the stove. Heat domes are formed in the atmosphere when high-pressure areas force heat down and stop milder weather from coming through. The pressure acts as a lid and forms a sort of “dome” in which the heat then builds up and leads to a full-on heatwave.

The National Weather Service has said multiple heat domes across the country are driving up temperatures this week for record-breaking temperatures that arrived before summer even officially begins Thursday.

High humidity and miserable temperatures of 90 degrees and up have already sparked heat warnings in at least 17 states, and the Northeast and Midwest are expected to spend nearly a week smack dab in the middle of the worst heat wave in 30 years.

“Warm overnight temperatures only dropping into the mid-70s will offer little to no relief, especially to those without adequate or reliable cooling,” the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center warned.

High humidity will only make matters worse, with heat indices in the triple digits in some areas.

Heatwaves are generally becoming more common with climate change, scientists say, and heat domes in particular are getting hotter and hotter. The 2021 heat dome that covered parts of the Northwest and Canada and was blamed for hundreds of deaths led to temperatures as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

One study later found that those deadly temperatures would have been “virtually impossible without human-caused climate change.”

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