Climatological hazards: extreme temperatures (heat wave, cold wave and extreme winter conditions)

Heat Waves

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot and sometimes also humid weather relative to normal climat patterns of a certain region.

Heat kills by pushing the human body beyond its limits. In extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to maintain a normal temperature.

Most heat disorders occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children, and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to succumb to extreme heat.

Conditions that can induce heat-related illnesses include stagnant atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. Consequently, people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than those living in rural areas. Also, asphalt and concrete store heat longer and gradually release heat at night, which can produce higher nighttime temperatures known as the "urban heat island effect."

Cold waves, winter storms and extreme winter conditions

A cold wave can be both a prolonged period of excessively cold weather and the sudden invasion of very cold air over a large area. Along with frost it can cause damage to agriculture, infrastructure, property.

Cold waves, heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas that normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snowstorm or extreme cold. Winter storms can result in flooding, storm surge, closed highways, blocked roads, downed power lines and hypothermia.

 

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