How to Know When a Heat Wave Is Coming

"I can see the future" GIF for knowing when a heat wave is coming

Technology has made you a wizard! Everyone with an internet connection in the 2020s is a weather soothsayer.

Pay attention to local weather alerts and advisories, and you’ll be alerted about impending heat waves. The U.S. National Weather Service categorizes heat danger into several categories:

  • Excessive Heat Outlook: Potential exists for an excessive heat event in the next 3-7 days.
  • Excessive Heat Watch: Conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 1-3 days.
  • Excessive Heat Advisory: Issued within 12 hours of the onset of dangerous heat conditions, these advisories suggest that affected residents take precautions to avoid heat illness.
  • Excessive Heat Warning: Issued within 12 hours of the onset of dangerous heat conditions. Affected residents are warned to take immediate action to avoid heat illnesses and the risk of death.

Here’s a layman’s translation of that list:

  • Excessive Heat Outlook: MAYBE there will be a heat wave in the coming week.
  • Excessive Heat Watch: It’s likely there will be a heat wave in the next few days.
  • Excessive Heat Advisory: There will be a heat wave today, so gird your loins.
  • Excessive Heat Warning: WARNING! WARNING! There will be a heat wave today and you are in THE DANGER ZONE.
Rule of Thumb

The heat is always waiting for you to drop your guard. That’s when it will pounce. Do not succumb to its attack.

Stay alert! Stay hydrated! Stay vigilant! Prepare your household for the fight!

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.