Put away the energy drinks, the sodas and the alcohol. High heat and humidity is suffocating Kansas City Saturday and prompting urgent health warnings.
“It’s going to be very oppressive,” said Chris Bowman, a meteorologist with National Weather Service, which announced Kansas City is under an excessive heat warning until 7 p.m. “Temperatures will be in the mid-90s, with humidity (50 to 60 percent) making heat indicis of 105 to 110 degrees. That’s an extremely uncomfortable air mass to be in.”
With large crowds expected at the Boulevardia festival in the West Bottoms, the Juneteenth celebration at 18th and Vine, and families planning Father’s Day weekend activities, weather and health officials are issuing severe warnings to guard against dehydration and heat strokes.
Carbonated beverages — especially energy drinks — and alcohol can actually increase the strain of heat on bodies, they said.
“Water is really the best option,” Bowman said.
The Kansas City Fire Department is especially aware of the dangers of such a mix of heat and humidity.
A firefighter recovering from a heat stroke was suffered under conditions of high heat during training exercises June 10. The fire department announced Saturday that the firefighter is making “substantial progress” and communicating with his family.
The fire department has safety guidelines in place when temperatures exceed 90 degrees, Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said. Despite monitoring heat conditions and taking regular water breaks, the firefighter suffered a stroke.
The department is re-evaluating its heat safety precautions, he said.
While there will be no training exercises Saturday, emergency crews will likely be busy responding to heat-related injuries and illness, as well as other emergencies.
People should try to postpone outdoor activities, Bowman said. Dress in light, loose clothing if you do need to be out. And also check on elderly or frail family members and neighbors.
A line of severe thunderstorms will pose new weather-related threats. They’re expected to arrive in the late afternoon or early evening Saturday.
A line of storms forming north of the Kansas City area could hit the area as it moves south with potentially strong, damaging winds and possibly large hail. Tornado activity appears unlikely, “but we can’t rule out an isolated tornado risk,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Welsh said.
Relief is coming. A cool front with dry air will make Sunday much more bearable, with highs only in the low 80s.
“You just got to get through today,” Bowman said.