1. We’ll see more heat. As school students enjoy their first weeks of summer freedom, triple-digit temperatures are poised over the nation’s mid-section. For the fifth day in a row, Colorado sweltered with temperatures in the 100s, as wildfires raged northwest of Fort Collins and in Colorado Springs, and in Las Animas, the state tied an all-time high of 114. In 2011, too, there was oppressive summer heat (Texas, for example, saw over 40 days of 100-degree temps in a row). High temperatures, combined with high humidity, caused downright dangerous heat indexes. But, the heat itself is not the only danger. On the hottest days, air quality suffers as well. Young kids are much more sensitive on Code Red air days, when health advisories are issued for poor air quality. As if kids needed another excuse to be glued to the television!
Extreme heat is not confined to vacation days. Many schools and sports practices resume in August, when soaring temps can put kids at risk of overheating. And we’ve even seen unusually hot days creep deeper into autumn, making fall sports challenging as well. I recall vividly a late September day when my youngest had to endure 98 degrees on the soccer field. Little kids can’t regulate body temperature very well, and don’t necessarily think to drink water, so she and her teammates were wilting!
2. Expect more wet weather (not just in summer). Warm air holds more moisture and moisture feeds stronger storms. In the Northeast US, the heaviest rainstorms have gotten 67 percent wetter in 50 years.
In winter, too, severe storms that cause school closures, late starts, and miserable driving conditions are projected to increase. And, although storm-fed power outages may result in lots of TV-free family time, the 2010 snowmageddon in Washington, DC caused extreme stir-craziness in our house. Even a long hike to the nearest sledding hill – necessitated by impassable roads and a dead car battery – did not completely erase the cabin fever.
3. Bottom line: it’s not always easy anymore to let your kids explore nature in their school-free summer days, or send them outside when they start bouncing off the walls.
So what can a parent do?
[Image: Dangerously high temperatures. Credit: Flickr user Mr. T in DC, via a Creative Commons license.]