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Alabamians advised to take precautions in scorching heat

The National Weather Service is advising Alabamians to take precautions after issuing an Excessive Heat Warning for most of the state, with temperatures expected to reach triple digits starting Thursday, and heat index values as high as 112.

“As we get into this weekend, it’s going to be everywhere (in the state),” said Jessica Laws, a meteorologist with the NWS.

The Excessive Heat Warning, which will be in effect from 11 a.m. Thursday through 9 p.m. Friday, was issued for 21 counties spanning across the state, including Jefferson, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery counties. Temperatures are expected to reach the high 90s or low 100s, with heat index values expected to reach levels in excess of 110.

Laws told Alabama Daily News that the best precautions Alabamians can take to stay safe this weekend are to avoid being outdoors, and to take frequent breaks in the shade if forced to be outside. Laws also advised Alabamians to become familiar with the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, not just for themselves but to be able to recognize other people exhibiting symptoms.

The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday also warned people to take precautions to avoid heat cramps, exhaustion and heat stroke. Drink plenty of fluids — but not alcohol and caffeine, and stay in air-conditioned spaces as much as possible.

People with underlying medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity, should take extra precautions.

While extreme heat isn’t unusual during Alabama summers, what is somewhat unusual, Laws said, was just how high the heat index might reach this weekend.

“We have a high pressure over us, and that’s going to allow for temperatures to really warm up; combined with the dew point humidity we’re expecting, we can see heat indexes in the triple digits, some of them even up to 115,” Law, who’s been with the NWS for 13 years, said.

“A lot of times with a low pressure system you have winds moving from the north, (but) with the high pressure right now, it’s coming up around the gulf, so it’s bringing that warm, moist air over the state.”

Cities across the state are responding to excessive heat. The city of Montgomery announced that its libraries and community centers will be open to the public to serve as cooling stations for residents. The city of Birmingham announced on Wednesday that its libraries will have free bottled waters for residents throughout the weekend, as well as cooling stations at a number of different locations.


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