Grace Smith | August 22, 2022
More than 100 million U.S. citizens will live in an Extreme Heat Belt by 2053 where at least one day a year, heat index temperatures will reach or surpass 125 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a report published by First Street Foundation, a group that studies and provides climate risk information, on August 15.
In the peer-reviewed extreme heat model, 50 counties – home to 8.1 million residents — will experience the 125-degree heat index by 2023. Then, by 2053, 1,023 counties, where 107.6 million Americans call home, will experience the heat. The foundation calls this area that could be experiencing this heat the “Extreme Heat Belt,” which spans from Northern Texas to Wisconsin, passing through Illinois, Indiana, and many more states.
St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Memphis, and Tulsa are some of the largest expected cities to experience the extreme heat. In Iowa, counties that will be hit by the heat include Fremont, located in southwest Iowa; as well as Lee and Van Buren counties, which neighbor each other in the southeastern corner of the state. Each Iowa county has over a 73 percent increase in extreme heat wave likelihood in the next 30 years.
“Increasing temperatures are broadly discussed as averages, but the focus should be on the extension of the extreme tail events expected in a given year,” said Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of First Street Foundation, said in a press release. “We need to be prepared for the inevitable, that a quarter of the country will soon fall inside the Extreme Heat Belt with temperatures exceeding 125°F and the results will be dire.”