Breakdown: Why heat index is more dangerous than temperature

Breakdown: Why the heat index is a big deal

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - As we move into the summer months, you will usually hear the First Alert Weather team use the term "heat index" a lot of the time on those brutally hot and humid days, but do you understand what the heat index measures and how it can be important to our health?

Meteorologist will use the term, "feels-like" temperatures to describe a heat index, but basically, we are explaining how the air outside really feels to you when relative humidity is factored in with the actual temperature of the air.

The heat and humidity could be deadly to our bodies. The human body cools itself by the evaporation of perspiration from the skin. This means on a hot, humid day, less evaporation can occur, that will in turn hinder the bodies ability to cool itself down in the hot, summer sun.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created a color-coded table, to show how the heat and humidity could be dangerous to your body. For example, on a 96-degree Fahrenheit day with a relative humidity value of 60% gives us a real feel temperature of 116 degrees, which is in the danger category, meaning heat disorders can occur with prolonged exposure or strenuous activity.

The National Weather Service has certain criteria for Excessive Heat Watches and Warnings. For a Watch it means that conditions are favorable for heat indices to reach 110°F due to a combination of heat and humidity. This is usually issued 24 to 72 hours before the heat takes place. A Warning means heat index values of 110°F or higher during the day with low temperatures >= 75°F at night are occurring or imminent, this is usually issued 12 to 48 hours before the heat takes place.

Heat and humidity is nothing to play around with, Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke can take place when the extreme heat hits the Mid-South. Make sure to keep up-to-date with the forecast as we move into the hottest months of the year.

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