Media Heats Up with Coverage of Extreme Weather
By Alex Kasdin
CBS News and the Associated Press reported on the mass power outages that occurred across the mid-Atlantic region because of the severe thunderstorm event, known as a “derecho,” that occurred on June 29. The lack of power, and consequently the lack of air conditioning, has added to the public health risks from the late June and early July heat wave.
According to the Washington Post, the morning commute in and around Washington, D.C. was not as treacherous as feared since many traffic lights were without power. Many federal and state employees were told they could work from home on Monday to help alleviate the traffic. Workers from power companies descended upon the mid-Atlantic, some from hundreds of miles away, to help restore power supplies.
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Power outages still plague the D.C. area. Almost 25 percent of customers in D.C., Northern Virginia, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are still without power, according to the Washington Post. Though this is a big improvement from Sunday afternoon’s 34 percent, power companies still have a long way to go to reach their goal of restoring power to 90 percent of customers by Friday night. Some summer camps and summer schools even had to close temporarily until they regained power and air conditioning.
Even with power, the extreme heat can be difficult to deal with, and it can have major economic consequences. The New York Times chronicled the story of Hill City, a small agricultural town in Kansas, which was one of the warmest places in the U.S. during the last week of June. The mercury crept up to 115°F in Hill City during a long stretch of triple digit heat, causing air conditioners to fail and cows to desperately search for shade. The crucial growing season has been too dry and hot to sustain the crops.
Christopher C. Burt, a blogger for Weather Underground, detailed the heat records set across the U.S. during the present heat wave in a blog post. Among the highlights, Burt discussed the 108°F record set in St. Louis on June 28. He noted that record heat in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast usually occurs in July and August, not in June. Only 5 percent of the scorching records for the Midwest have been set in months other than July and August. Burt warned that the heat wave is far from over and that “summer has just begun.”