Summary: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports El Niño is expected to return within a few months and has a strong chance of lasting the rest of the year, prompting extreme weather patterns in many parts of the United States and elsewhere. Comments below from Duke University heat and health expert Ashley Ward are available for use in your coverage.
“We will likely see a significant impact from El Niño in the 2023 heat season. The last time we had a similar scenario was 2016, which is tied with 2020 as the hottest year on record,” says Ashley Ward, a senior policy associate and expert on heat and health at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. “While El Niño is still forming this year, we need to prepare for the 2024 heat season to likely be worse.”
“This is the time to direct our energies and efforts toward preparedness and readiness, particularly to protect our most vulnerable citizens from the impact of extreme heat. State and local leaders need to develop response plans for periods of extreme heat that address how to reach both urban and rural populations.”
“Education campaigns can help individuals understand how they can mitigate heat. Additional measures could include expanding programs that offer fans and other cooling devices to those who need them, providing shelter for the unhoused during periods of extreme heat and reinforcing heat safety guidelines for occupational exposure and student athletes.”
Ashley Ward is a senior policy associate and expert on heat and health at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability. Ward focuses on engaging communities to identify and address climate, environmental and health issues while helping them develop long-term, sustainable strategies relevant to their needs. With the NOAA RISA team in the Carolinas, she worked on heat-related illness, heat impacts on maternal health outcomes and public health preparedness and readiness for climate extremes. She is coauthor of an April 2023 report that evaluates states’ treatment of extreme heat risks in their hazard mitigation plans.
For additional comment, contact Ashley Ward at: