The weather hazards of summer return
Published 1:19 pm Saturday, June 4, 2022
By Skip Rigney
June brings full-fledged summer to south Mississippi. Gone are the days of protecting pipes and plants from freezes. The risk of tornadoes, though not zero, has followed the jet stream northward and the highest risk is now in the central and northern Great Plains. Tropical storms and hurricanes can occur, but they are fewer in number and intensity compared with the coming months of August and September.
But June does usher in a new set of weather hazards. Because we haven’t had to deal with these risks since last summer, they can sometimes catch us off guard with potentially serious consequences.
This coming Wednesday and Thursday the hottest temperatures since last August are forecast to arrive in Pearl River County with a chance of highs in the middle 90s. Add in summer mugginess as measured by dew point temperatures near 70 degrees, and it will feel more like 100 degrees does in the desert.
Later in the summer, after we have become more accustomed to it, those conditions won’t merit much special attention. But, given that it’s been nine months since we experienced similar temperatures, this is heat that we should be careful of, if working or playing outside.
Drink plenty of fluids, stay in the shade as much as possible, and don’t try to set a new Olympic record for whatever activity you’re engaged in. If your body heats up too quickly to cool itself properly, or if you become dehydrated, your body temperature may rise above safe levels, and you may experience a heat-related illness. The National Weather Service has more safety tips related to heat cramps, exhaustion, and strokes at www.weather.gov/safety/heat-illness
While I’d rather head to the mountains to escape the heat, many people apparently subscribe to the motto, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” They trek over to the Alabama or Florida beaches, putting themselves as close as possible to the source of Gulf humidity.
They need to realize that those beautiful Gulf waters can be deadly. No, it’s not a shark problem, it’s a rip current problem. Those in the water can quickly find themselves being pushed out to sea by these narrow jets of fast moving water. If the swimmer, or those trying to save them, don’t know the correct strategy for escaping the rip, the result can be a tragedy. Rip currents are the number one weather-related killer on beaches directly exposed to the Gulf. (On the beaches of Mississippi Sound, the waves and the beach slopes are both too small for rip currents to form.)
The best advice when wind and wave conditions make rips likely, is to stay out of the water. The National Weather Service in Mobile posts rip current forecasts each day for Alabama and northwest Florida at www.weather.gov/beach/mob
But no forecast is perfect, and even on a low risk day beach bathers can find themselves in a rip current. Read how to survive, and learn more about rip currents at www.weather.gov/tae/ripcurrentawareness
I’ll save lightning, bacteria in the waters of Mississippi Sound, and sunburn for future columns. I’m for being safety conscious, but surely heat stroke and rip currents give us enough to think about for one week.