Background Information: Extreme Heat

In central Virginia, we expect longer and hotter heat waves, as well as increasing numbers of individual days with extremely hot temperatures. For example, the number of days per year in our area that exceed 95°F is likely to increase from 5-10 days currently to 35 days in 2050 and 75 days by the end of the century. Extreme heat can lead to heat-related illness, increasing demand for emergency services. High minimum temperatures (e.g., nighttime lows above 80°F) can affect the body’s ability to regulate and recover from the stress of extreme heat during the day, with children especially affected. The urban heat island effect can exacerbate exposure to heat waves among community members in the urban area, where less tree cover and more buildings and asphalt lead to higher temperatures.

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