Philadelphia braces for another wave of heat as precipitation levels fall below average

An open fire hydrant is pictured on Reese Street in Philly's Hunting Park neighborhood

Philadelphia resident Daniel Tirado parked himself under an open fire hydrant during a heatwave on July 20, 2022. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia is bracing for another week of intense heat. The forecast is calling for several days of temperatures in the mid-90s, with temps expected to peak Thursday at 100 degrees.

This wave comes on the heels of another heat wave just last month where the City declared a Heat Health Emergency. On top of that, July ended up being pretty dry compared to the historical average.

The Philadelphia metro area usually sees around four inches of rain per year during July. This year, however, the region received barely more than two inches.

Situations like these are usually connected with ridges of high-pressure hovering over the area. Paul Fitzsimmons is a general forecaster for the National Weather Service’s Mount Holly office.

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“When you get these ridges of high pressure aloft, that’s often when you tend to get the very warm conditions,” Fitzsimmons said. “And in those situations, it can also be quite dry. So yeah, there often can be a correlation between temperatures being like very warm and then and then things also being dry.”

Fitzsimmons says the hot temperatures and dry weather definitely have people paying attention to what’s happening.

July 12th of last year, we had a very significant flood event,” Fitzsimmons said. “And then we had, you know, the remnants of Ida. And then this year, yeah, it just it’s been below average except for the first part of the summer, and people are like, ‘Gosh, it’s, it’s so dry now. We need the rain.’”

From the year 2000 to today, average temperatures fall just shy of 80 during July. This year, average temperatures recorded last month were nearly identical to what was seen in July 2011. Philadelphia dealt with multiple 100-degree days that year and 35 people died due to heat-related illnesses.

Philadelphia’s Health Department and Office of Emergency Management are monitoring temperatures this week in case a Heat Health Emergency needs to be declared again.

Following Monday’s rain, temperatures will jump back up into the 90s throughout the week, including a predicted peak of 100 degrees on Thursday.

In an emailed statement to WHYY from the city, if heat indices reach a level that will require a Heat Health Emergency declaration and activation of the heating and cooling resources, the announcement will be made public as early as possible. So far, a declaration has not been made.

The Department of Public Health advises people to use air conditioning, stay hydrated, and avoid being outside during the Sun’s peak hours to reduce the risk of a heat-related illness.

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Nearly two weeks ago, the city declared an emergency. Five heat-related deaths occurred during the recent heat wave.

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