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New 'extreme heat belt' could form from Texas to Wisconsin by 2053

Children try to beat the 98-degree heat by running through a water spray provided by the St. Louis Fire Department on Day 2 of the Fair St. Louis in St. Louis on July 4. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/dbc6aee01bd7ee1675a04030d7eaea37/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Children try to beat the 98-degree heat by running through a water spray provided by the St. Louis Fire Department on Day 2 of the Fair St. Louis in St. Louis on July 4. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 15 (UPI) -- A new "extreme heat belt" from Texas to Wisconsin could form in the United States by 2053 and communities across the country could see months of heat index temperatures above 100°F.

Models based on government data find 50 counties in which 8.1 million residents are expected to experience temperatures above 125°F in 2023, according to a peer-reviewed report released Monday by the nonprofit research group First Street Foundation.

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More than 107 million residents in 1,023 counties in the middle of the country where there are no coastal influences are expected to experience temperatures past 125°F by 2053.

That temperature, labeled "Extreme Danger," is the highest level on the National Weather Service's heat index -- which combines humidity and air temperature to represent what the heat actually feels like to humans.

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"Increasing temperatures are broadly discussed as averages, but the focus should be on the extension of the extreme tail events expected in a given year," said Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of First Street Foundation.

"We need to be prepared for the inevitable, that a quarter of the country will soon fall inside the Extreme Heat Belt with temperatures exceeding 125°F and the results will be dire."

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The study noted that the most severe shift in local temperatures will occur in Florida's Miami-Dade County where the seven hottest days, currently at 103°F, will increase to 34 days at that same temperature by 2053.

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"These increases in local temperatures result in significant implications for communities that are not acclimated to warmer weather relative to their normal climate," the study reads.

"This reality suggests that a 10% temperature increase in Maine can be as dangerous as a 10% increase in Texas, even as the absolute temperature increase in Texas is much higher."

First Street researchers used their model to create an online tool called Risk Factor to let people see how their homes could be affected by extreme temperatures in the next 30 years.

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