AMU Original Public Safety

Get Ready for Severe Summer Weather: Humidity, Heat and Hurricanes

By Dr. Kandis Y. Wyatt, PMP
Faculty Member, Transportation and Logistics

As I was growing up in Chicago, anything above 80 degrees was considered hot. Fast-forward to living over 25 years in southern and coastal states, and my opinion of summer has definitely changed. I tend to spend more time indoors than outdoors to escape the “triple H”: humidity, heat and hurricanes.

Summers are supposed to be fun, relaxing and exciting. However, severe weather can impact outdoor activities. Therefore, it’s wise to be mindful of the weather forecast, keep an eye on the sky and be prepared to take action.

It’s also important to understand the terms that are used by the National Weather Service, the official source of weather information and forecasts for the United States. The most common weather forecasts are Outlooks, Advisories, Watches and Warnings; each has different criteria depending on the type of weather hazard. Becoming familiar with these different forecasts will allow you to make more informed decisions about what to do in certain weather conditions.

In the summer, there can be a variety of weather hazards that range from tropical storms, floods, fog and high winds. However, the most common summer hazards during the summer are related to humidity, high heat and hurricanes.

Related link: Who Determines the Weather Forecast: Man or Machine?


If you plan to travel over the summer months, understanding the humidity level in that area as well as your hometown is important. Excessive humidity can lead to health challenges.

According to Dr. Samuel Sarmiento of NBC News, “High humidity can have a number of adverse effects on the human body. It can contribute to feelings of low energy and lethargy. In addition, high humidity can cause hyperthermia — overheating as a result of your body’s inability to effectively let out heat.” Humidity can also affect your brain.


Heat is the leading cause of weather-related deaths, so it’s useful to take precautions when the weather in your area is very hot. Pay attention to the heat index, which measures how you will feel in a hot and humid environment. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a useful heat index chart.

Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

For example, if your thermometer reads 96°F and the relative humidity is 65%, the heat index is a dangerous 121°F. To avoid heat-related illnesses, you would need to take precautions, such as staying indoors, drinking cool liquids, wearing loose clothing and using sunscreen.


Ironically, heat and humidity are often precursors for hurricanes. Hurricanes gain their strength over the ocean, and warmer ocean temperatures help to drive air circulation.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) will issue its hurricane outlook on May 24. However, if the NHC’s outlook is anything like past years, major tropical disturbances, severe weather such as storms and hurricanes will be prevalent from June through November.

As a result, there will be a variety of weather hazards, including strong winds, rip currents, landslides and floods. Hurricanes and tornadoes are particularly devastating because they often create simultaneous weather hazards (such as floods and high winds), which lead to weather-related destruction and deaths.

Related link: Maintaining Water Standards Despite Climate Changes

Staying Prepared for Summer’s Hazards

Overall, the question is not whether a severe weather event will hit your area, but WHEN it will hit your area. While forecasts are improving every year, it’s important to remain prepared for any kind of severe weather.

The Department of Homeland Security developed to help people understand and respond to different weather hazards. Extreme weather awareness needs to be a staple of every education system, ranging from elementary to post-secondary, so that both children and adults can react properly to extreme weather.

Regardless of where you live in the United States, become familiar with annual severe weather hazards so that you can react swiftly to wildfires, hurricanes, blizzards, heat waves, floods, drought and tornadoes. If you are in the path of any extreme summer weather, be sure to listen to officials if you need to evacuate and take precautions to protect your home and family.

Dr. Kandis Y. Wyatt, PMP, is an award-winning author, presenter, and professor with nearly 30 years of experience in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM). She is the creator of the Professor S.T.E.A.M. Children’s Book Series, which brings tomorrow’s concepts to future leaders today. A global speaker, STE(A)M advocate, and STE(A)M communicator, she holds a B.S. in Meteorology and an M.S. in Meteorology and Water Resources from Iowa State University, as well as a D.P.A. in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She is a faculty member in Transportation and Logistics for the Wallace E. Boston School of Business and specializes in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in transportation, education, and technology.

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