Temperatures are expected to soar to the mid-90s this weekend as a heat wave grips the region.
A heat advisory in effect for portions of western Pennsylvania from noon Friday until 8 p.m. Saturday as the region braces for two of its warmest days so far this year.
Issued Thursday afternoon by the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, the advisory includes Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, calling for temperatures in the mid-90s and a heat index topping 105 degrees.
According to the NWS, a heat advisory indicates that a period of hot temperatures is expected and that a combination of heat and high humidity can create a situation in which heat illnesses, including heat stress during outdoor exertion or extended exposure, are possible.
Meteorologist Lee Hendricks said temperatures Friday and Saturday are expected to be the highest so far in the region in 2019 when they reach 93 degrees and 95 degrees, respectively.
According to weather service reports for the Pittsburgh region, temperatures have reached 90 degrees only once this year.
The high on Sunday is projected at 90 degrees.
The heat index value, which is the combination of temperature and humidity, is expected to reach as high as 104 degrees on Friday, 105 degrees on Saturday and 99 degrees on Sunday.
Hendricks said a high heat index typically occurs with high humidity, such as the influx of warm, moist air that is currently moving north from the Gulf of Mexico, and with an abnormally high dew point.
The heat wave will recede after the weekend with temperatures returning to the low 80s early next week.
In the meantime, local emergency management officials are urging area residents to take steps to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses, which can cause death.
Fayette County Emergency Management Agency public information officer Sue Griffith said residents, especially children, elderly and people with breathing problems, should avoid long periods of exposure to the heat.
Residents are encouraged to drink plenty of water or sports drinks throughout the day and to avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages which can increase the risk of dehydration, and to limit outdoor activities to early morning or evening hours when temperatures tend to be cooler, Griffith said.
People are asked to monitor high-risk people by checking on elderly neighbors and children, and are encouraged to deliver bottled water to fire and EMS stations to aid first responders.
“It wouldn’t hurt to help if you were to see your mail person or someone working outside to give them a bottle of water, too,” said Griffith. “Be neighborly, be kind, and I like tell everyone, just be patient. People tend to get edgy when it’s hot. In a few months we’ll be complaining about the snow.”
At this time, Griffith said, there are no cooling stations planned for any communities during the weekend, but that could change. She said the EMA will continue to monitor the weather and adjust accordingly. The agency will announce the opening of any stations through social media and local media outlets, she said.
The Greene County Emergency Management Agency is approaching the situation similarly. No cooling stations have been established at this time, but the agency is working with municipalities and will provide stations as needed.