Dangerous Heat Settles Over NE Oklahoma

Tuesday, August 3rd 2010, 7:59 am
By: News On 6


TULSA, OK -- Northeastern Oklahoma is caught in a catch 22 this week thanks to humidity and heat. 

Most Oklahomans would prefer lower humidity, but lower humidity this week is allowing the temperatures in northeast Oklahoma to climb well above the 100-degree mark.

News On 6 meteorologist Alan Crone says lower humidity allows the air to heat up more efficiently, meaning higher temperatures than we usually experience in August. 

Relatively low humidity will also keep the heat index at or just slightly above the actual temperature. 

Last week, on the other hand, temperatures were only in the 90's, but with the dew point in the upper 70's, heat indexes were 110 or higher. 

Crone says the higher humidity of last week kept temperatures down, but the conditions were still uncomfortable because the higher humidity drove up the heat index. 

Read Alan Crone's weather discussion.

Crone says there is some good news with the dryer air and higher temperatures this week, outside the Tulsa metro area. During the overnight hours, temperatures will fall back into the low to mid-70's across much of northeast Oklahoma. 

He says that will not be the case in the Tulsa area, where the city creates a heat island. Crone says all the asphalt and concrete retains heat, preventing Tulsa from cooling past the upper 80's by the early morning hours. 

Five northeast Oklahoma counties continue to be under an excessive heat warning as temperatures in Oklahoma are forecast to reach triple digits through Thursday. The National Weather Service says Wagoner, Tulsa, Rogers, Sequoyah and Muskogee counties are covered under the warning. 

The rest of eastern Oklahoma remains under a heat advisory. 

The News On 6 WARN team says there is a slight chance for some relief by Friday as a weak front moves into northern Oklahoma Thursday night and Friday morning.  That will keep the temps below 100 for a couple of days.

EMSA says paramedics responded to seven individuals with symptoms of heat-related illness.  Several of those individuals had to be transported to Tulsa area hospitals.  

EMSA reminders:

• Light colored loose fitting clothing

• Take plenty of breaks when out in the heat if you must be out

• Consume plenty of non-alcoholic/non-caffeinated fluids (water, Gatorade)

• Stay in air-conditioned areas when possible (libraries, malls, movie theaters)

• Check on your elderly neighbors as you would in the cold weather months

• Do not leave children or pets in the car unattended even for a minute

EMSA says there are three levels when it comes to heat-related illness.  First, there is heat cramps.  It is the least serious, but not to be ignored.

What to look for:

  • Tightening in the muscles in the legs or other parts of the body.

Second is heat exhaustion.  This condition is more serious and can lead to heat stroke. 

What to look for:

  • Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness & exhaustion
  • Body temperature may normal or may be rising

Third is heat stroke, which is the most serious and can be fatal. 

What to look for:

  • Hot, red skin
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Body temperature as high as 105 degrees
  • Change in consciousness

EMSA says the following cooling stations are still open for business until further notice:

  • The Salvation Army Center of Hope at 102 North Denver. [24/7]
  • Tulsa County Social Services at 2401 Charles Page Boulevard. [8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.]
  • Dennis R. Neill Equality Center at 621 East 4th Street [10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday]

Related stories:
8/2/2010 Sweltering Heat Taking A Toll On Oklahoma Roads
8/1/2010 Heat Is Forcing Hundreds To Call Tulsa Fire Department Daily For Help
7/31/2010 Green Country Residents Urged To Use Caution In Heat