02:21 - Source: CNN
Record-breaking heat and severe weather threats
CNN  — 

Relentless, oppressive heat will grip much of the US this weekend, with the Northeast region expected to bear the brunt amid forecasts for near-record temperatures across the region.

More than 85 million Americans from the central US to the Northeast are under heat warnings or advisories Saturday morning as officials across the country urge people to take precautions when outdoors.

“Sweltering heat over the Northeast US this weekend may lead 30+ stations to approach or exceed their record high temps by Sunday, w/ high humidity driving triple-digit heat indices along the I-95 corridor,” the Weather Prediction Center warned Friday.

“In terms of actual high temps, look for daytime max temps to eclipse the century mark in the Central Plains and record breaking high temps from the Central Plains to the Northeast today (Saturday).”

Heat index values – what the air feels like – may reach at least 105 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend in parts of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, aided by the suffocating humidity, the prediction center noted.

The dangerous temperatures – which experts note are becoming more common across the globe due to climate change– have led state and local leaders to take steps to help their residents cope with the oppressive conditions.

“Temperatures at night will struggle to drop below 80 degrees, especially in the highly urbanized areas such as Center City Philadelphia,” the National Weather Service office in nearby Mount Holly said.

In New York, the governor is urging people to take advantage of cooling centers and check on particularly vulnerable communities.

“We need everyone to be on alert this weekend, keeping an eye out for any signs of heat-related illness and looking after one another,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release.

In Philadelphia – where the air is forecast to feel as hot as 107 degrees Fahrenheit Sunday – officials extended a heat health emergency. Cooling centers, home visits by special teams and enhanced daytime outreach to people experiencing homelessness are available through Sunday.

A heat emergency is in effect in Washington, DC, until at least Monday morning as temperatures are expected to be 95 degrees or higher, the mayor announced. Shelters and cooling centers have also opened to serve those who need them, the mayor said.

Sylvia Carrasquillo reacts as she sits in front of an open fire hydrant Friday in The Bronx neighborhood of New York City.

This week saw at least 2 heat-related deaths in US

The extreme heat claimed at least two lives so far this week.

In Dallas, a 66-year-old woman who had underlying health conditions died due to heat-related issues, a county official said Thursday.

And on Wednesday, a 22-year-old hiker died due to possible dehydration and exposure in a South Dakota national park, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

The hiker was flown to a hospital after running out of water while hiking on an unmarked trail in Badlands National Park.

Highs in the area this week have been in the upper 90s, according to the National Weather Service. Typically, highs are 92 degrees in July.

In Arizona, officials in Maricopa County reported at least 29 people died from heat-related issues since March – the majority of whom were outdoors. Last year, 16 heat-related deaths during the same period in 2021, the county’s public health department said. In the meantime, dozens of other deaths are under investigation in the county for heat-related causes.

Excessive heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the US. The conditions climate change imposes have been making extreme weather events more deadly and more common.

In fact, heat deaths have outpaced hurricane deaths by more than 15-to-1 over the past decade, according to data tracked by the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile in New Mexico, two women died Thursday after flash flooding in San Miguel County, the sheriff said in a statement.

First-responders there found the bodies of the two women in a creek channel after seeing a car had capsized, Sheriff Chris Lopez said. A man was also reported missing in the flooding, he added.

85% of US will see high temperatures next week

About 85% of the US population – or 273 million people – could see high temperatures above 90 degrees over the next week. And about 55 million people could see high temperatures at or above 100 degrees over the next seven days.

On Saturday, “sizzling temperatures” will take hold of the Middle Mississippi Valley and Central Plains with temperatures forecast to surpass 100 degrees, the weather prediction center said.

Saturday's heat index forecast

Daytime temperatures could top 100 degrees across much of the Southwest, with some areas exceeding 110 degrees, according to the center.

The south-central region can expect to see high temperatures in the triple digits every day between Sunday and Thursday, the prediction center noted.

“There is some good news in the medium range (after the weekend) as an approaching cold front brings a brief injection of cooler temps to the Midwest and Northeast, but the core of the intense heat shifts to the South Central US and Pacific Northwest early next week,” the prediction center wrote.

CNN’s Samantha Beech, Robert Shackelford, Rachel Ramirez, Rebekah Riess, Paradise Afshar and Haley Brink contributed to this report.