ITHACA, N.Y. — If you’ll be heading outdoors for an extended period over the next several days, be prepared for some very hot and humid weather. As a ridge of hot, moist air pushed into the Southern Tier today, high temperatures soar into the 90s Sunday through mid-week, and with the oppressive humidity also in place, the heat index index will likely reach triple digits.

According to the National Weather Service, a heatwave is expected to impact Upstate New York for several days starting Sunday. The maximum heat index is predicted to be as high as 102 degrees in Ithaca on Sunday, and in the upper 90s to low 100s through Wednesday.

The high-temperatures Sunday and Monday are predicted to be around 94 degrees according to the National Weather Service in Binghamton, but combined with sweltering humidity, it will feel like it’s near or in the 100s from early afternoon through mid-evening, about 12 p.m. to 6 p.m each day. Heat advisories are likely to issued as we head into Sunday and the start of next week.

For the curious, the NWS defines heat index, the way the air feels to the human body once humidity is factored in, in more detail here. Basically, dry air allows moisture to evaporate from your skin and your body to cool off. Very moist and humid air, as demonstrated by the dewpoints in the 70s expected Sunday through Wednesday, does not, so your body feels hotter.

With such high temperatures and humidity, there is an increased risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially for the young, elderly, people in poor health and people who are outdoors for long periods of time. The Tompkins County Health Department has some tips and resources to be prepared.

The following tips and information come directly from the Tompkins County Health Department:

  • Drink plenty of water – 2 to 4 glasses per hour, depending on level of activity
  • Limit strenuous outdoor activities during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
  • Prevent sunburn by applying sunscreen if you must be outside (SPF 15 or higher)
  • Wear loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks that cause dehydration
  • Take a cool shower or go swimming
  • Wear a ventilated hat, such as straw or mesh
  • Never leave children or pets alone in vehicles
  • Go to air-conditioned spaces such as a mall, library, or community center
  • Use caution with electric fans; they create air flow and a sense of comfort, but do not lower body temperature.

Who is Most at Risk? Infants and children up to four years of age, people 65 years of age and older, people who are overweight, and people who are ill, have chronic medical conditions and/ or on certain medications.

Know the warning signs of heat-related illness. Check out the County’s Preparedness Page.

Every heat-related illness and death is preventable! You can help prevent heat-related illnesses and deaths by checking on people in your community during periods of extreme heat and, if needed, offering to drive them to an air-conditioned location. A/C is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death, according to the CDC.

Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service

Be Familiar with the Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness

Heatstroke is the most serious. Signs and symptoms include an extremely high body temperature above 103 degrees; hot, dry, red skin; rapid pulse; loss of alertness; confusion; rapid and shallow breathing and unconsciousness. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and you should call 911 immediately.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness and is characterized by heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, tiredness, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting, cool clammy skin, fainting.

If you see someone showing these symptoms, move the person to a cool place, loosen their clothes and apply cool, wet cloths.

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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.