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Pittsburgh braces for intense weather with high heat, high humidity

Empty water steps along Pittsburgh's Allegheny River. While it might be tempting to visit the steps or a pool to beat the heat, experts say it's going to be too hot to be outside for long next week.
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Visitors to the Pittsburgh Water Steps play in the water at the feature along the Allegheny River.

A heat wave is arriving in Pittsburgh this week with the temperature rapidly climbing from the temperate 60s and 70s of early June.

Although most forecasts place the highs of the week in the mid-90s, Lee Hendricks, a meteorologist with Pittsburgh’s National Weather Service, says these numbers don’t tell the full story.

Hendricks says that while the temperature will reach the mid-to-upper 90s, the heat index will reach all the way into the 100s during the week.

“The heat index includes humidity in the equation as well,” he said. “So those who have respiratory issues or heart issues, or the very young, would be affected by this in particular.”

Pittsburgh is no stranger to high heat, but Hendricks says a heat wave this long is unusual. High pressure all along the east coast is centered right over Pennsylvania, resulting in very little clouds and winds but a lot of sun.

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The nights will only drop down into the 70s, meaning there won’t be much relief from the heat at all until the weekend. While summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors, Hendricks suggests it’s probably best to wait until the temperature drops down a bit.

“Everybody, I’m sure, is eager to get out and have some fun in the sun finally, but this is not the ideal weather to do that in,” he explained. “This is ideal weather for heat exhaustion.”

There are many ways to stay safe for people who are going to go out during the day. Hendricks says it’s best to go out in the morning hours and wear protective clothing like hats. Many Pittsburgh communities also offer cooling centers for those who do not have air conditioning.

Temperatures are forecasted to lower back into the 80s after this week, but until that happens, Hendricks stresses the importance of staying hydrated.

“If you think you’re out and you’re drinking enough water, you’re really not. Drink more.”

The following Healthy Active Living Centers will be open as Cooling Centers next week every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. except for Wednesday, June 19. Juneteenth hours are from noon to 7 p.m.:

Beechview Healthy Active Living Community Center 

1555 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216

Brighton Heights Healthy Active Living Community Center 

3515 McClure Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Greenfield Healthy Active Living Community Center 

745 Greenfield Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Homewood Healthy Active Living Community Center 

7321 Frankstown Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Sheraden Healthy Active Living Community Center 

720 Sherwood Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15204

South Side Healthy Active Living Community Center 

12th & Bingham Streets
Pittsburgh, PA 15203

Citiparks Recreation Centers will also be open every day except for Wednesday at the following hours:

AMMON (2217 Bedford Avenue, 15219)  Monday-Friday:  9 AM to 9 PM

BROOKLINE (1400 Oakridge Street, 15226)  Monday-Friday:  9 AM to 6 PM   

JEFFERSON (605 Redknap Street, 15212)  Monday-Friday:  9 AM to 5 PM

MAGEE (745 Greenfield Avenue, 15217)  Monday-Friday:  9 AM to 6 PM

PAULSON  (1201 Paulson Avenue, 15206  Monday-Friday:  9 PM to 6 PM

PHILLIPS  (201 Parkfield Street, 15210)  Monday-Friday:  9 AM to 9 PM

All other HAL Senior Centers will be open as well during their regular 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. hours. They will be closed on Wednesday for the Juneteenth holiday.

Thomas is a rising senior at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing a double major in Politics and Philosophy and English Writing. They are currently the opinions editor at The Pitt News, the content manager for Policy and Political Review and a head writer for Pitt's best and only late night talk show, Pitt Tonight.