Aug 18, 2022 - News

🔥 Dealing with our "heat belt"

Counties expected to experience heat indices above 125°F by 2053
Note: Shaded counties are those that will, on average, have 0.5 days or more at or above a 125F° heat index in 2053; Data: First Street Foundation; Map: Axios Visuals

Millions of Ohioans living in an emerging "extreme heat belt" are expected to face sweltering temperatures over the coming decades, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

Why it matters: Ohio has largely been spared from serious climate-related disasters like droughts and wildfires, but new data projects the Buckeye State and its neighbors will eventually be impacted.

The big picture: The belt features areas where the heat index could reach 125°F at least one day per year by 2053, according to the nonprofit First Street Foundation.

  • The number of Americans living in these extreme heat conditions is projected to balloon from 8 million to over 100 million in the next 30 years.

Zoom in: That includes metros like Cincinnati and Dayton, though Columbus and northern Ohio may avoid the worst of it.

Yes, but: Many Ohioans are already reckoning with the effects of climate change, while mitigation will cost billions of dollars in infrastructure improvements, environmental groups estimate.

What we're watching: The warmer temperatures are expected to set off a perilous cycle.

  • First Street Foundation estimates all Ohioans will spend millions more in the years ahead to cool their homes, resulting in more CO2 production, which makes it tough to meet goals for limiting the carbon emissions causing temperatures to rise in the first place.
  • So while Columbus' green energy goal is to be carbon neutral by 2050, Ohioans should prepare for things to get warmer.
Increase in the annual number of days above 100°F
Data: First Street Foundation; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals
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