4.4 Houston Heat-Related Illness and Apparent Temperature

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 9:15 AM
Room 17B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Lance Wood, NOAA, Dickinson, TX; and M. Keehn, M. Huffman, and E. Santos

Excessive heat was the biggest contributor to weather related deaths in the United States during the period between 2006 and 2016. The Greater Houston Metropolitan Area (GHMA) averages a few heat related deaths per year, and in excess of 100 cases of Heat Related Illness (HRI) per year. Because of the significant impact heat has on the population, the Houston Health Department conducts heat injury surveillance from March to September. The data from this heat surveillance program (2013-17) will be compared to the current NWS Heat Index (NWSHI), which was developed in 1990 by Rothfusz, and based on an Apparent Temperature (AT) model developed by Robert Steadman in 1979. Comparing the NWSHI to HRI cases is important, because the NWSHI is the basis for the current NWS Heat Watch/Warning/Advisory program which is used to alert and warn the public and city health departments of dangerous heat conditions. Previous work by Wood and Keehn has shown that the inclusion of a variable wind can have a significant effect on the AT along the Gulf coast, where the passage of the seabreeze abruptly changes the wind and moisture variables. Therefore, the goal of this study is to not only evaluate the correlation of the NWSHI with HRI data, but also to include the Steadman AT (with wind and solar radiation) to see which AT method/formula best correlates to cases of HRI and occurrences of heat related deaths.
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