Chicago and Illinois officials are issuing warnings as the region heads into the hottest weather it’s seen in seven years.
The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories and excessive heat warnings for Chicagoland. Thunderstorms with heavy rainfall rolled through the area Thursday morning, but conditions will turn hot and humid for the rest of the day and continue into the weekend.
The Weather Service is forecasting temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees over the next few days, as well as high humidity. That combination will create heat indexes ranging from 111 degrees in Rockford to 105 degrees in Chicago. The heat index measures how hot it feels when you factor in humidity with the air temperature.
The Weather Service said the hottest days will be Friday and Saturday.
“We are going to be seeing the hottest weather thus far this season,” said Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Birk. “We can be looking at, see some hot and humid conditions that we haven’t seen since 2012.”
He said 2012 is a benchmark for extreme heat in recent years, as it’s the last time Chicago’s air temperatures reached 100 degrees.
When it feels this hot, the Weather Service urges people to limit any strenuous activity outdoors, stay hydrated, check on elderly and vulnerable people who don’t have air conditioning and never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city health and emergency services officials held a news conference Thursday morning to discuss preparations for the heat wave.
“Our city departments are working around the clock conducting well-being checks and outreach to ensure our most vulnerable residents have access to facilities that provide relief from the extreme heat,” Lightfoot said.
Lurie Children’s Hospital is especially concerned about the potentially deadly effects of heat on kids in vehicles. More than 800 children in the U.S. have died from vehicular heatstroke since 1998, according to Lurie.
Illinois transportation officials are warning drivers throughout the state to watch for road blowouts during the intense heat.
Acting Transportation Secretary Omer Osman said the “potential for pavement failures will increase” this week. High temperatures can cause roads to expand and blow out. State crews will be monitoring the conditions and will try to make repairs as quickly as possible, IDOT said.
Metra said it will be reducing its train speeds by 10 mph to reduce the stress on steel tracks, which can expand in high heat. Those reduced speeds will have an effect on travel times.