Heat death
11:02 am
Thu September 1, 2011

Record heat proves fatal in Metro East

Yesterday's record high temperature was a contributing factor in the death of a 79-year-old Belleville woman.

Ruth Reinhardt's body was found on the porch of a home Wednesday evening. The Belleville News-Democrat says police tried to locate Reinhardt earlier in the day after someone reported that she seems disoriented while walking around the neighborhood.

Temperatures reached 103 degrees yesterday, breaking the record of 100 degrees set in 1953. And the region could see record heat again today: the forecast high is 103 degrees, and the record, set back in 1984, is 104.

Meterologist Mark Britt with the National Weather Service says the large area of high pressure that's been baking Texas for months will occasionally expand, bringing the punishing heat to the St. Louis area. The last expansion brought with it three weeks of excessive heat warnings.

But Britt says because we're a few weeks closer to fall, this heat wave won't last as long.

"We're starting to see a little stronger storm systems move around the ridge of high pressure, and so that allows cold fronts to stay through Missouri and Illinois for a bit longer than they did earlier," Britt said.

And even though high temperatures will be warmer, Britt says the hot weather won't feel quite as oppressive as it did in July and August.

"We just don’t have the high humidity levels," he said. "Back in during the middle part of the summer we had dew points that were in the mid to upper 70s. Today for instance, the dew points across the area are in the upper 60s."

But Britt cautions that the heat is still dangerous. He's reminding residents to drink lots of water, stay in air conditioning as much as possible, and check on neighbors, especially those who are elderly or those with medical conditions.