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Heat advisory issued for N.H. this weekend, a first for the state in May

Forecast map of New Hampshire - National Weather Service, May 21-22, 2022
Forecast map of New Hampshire - National Weather Service, May 21-22, 2022

Parts of New Hampshire could see record high temperatures this weekend, according to the latest forecast.

Parts of New Hampshire could see record high temperatures this weekend and plenty of humidity, according to the latest forecast.

The National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine issued a heat advisory, which goes into effect at noon Saturday through 8 p.m. Sunday.

This is the first time the National Weather Service has issued an advisory of this kind for New Hampshire in the month of May.

State climatologist Mary Stampone said a heat advisory so early in the year paints a picture of how our climate is changing.

“This is it. It's here. We're already seeing the impacts of a…warming atmosphere,” she said.

Stampone said 90 degree days aren’t uncommon in May.

“But to have the combined heat and humidity conditions that are resulting in heat advisories, that's a sign of things changing,” she said.

And there’s more: With forest fires, earlier snowmelt, and increasing rapid drought onset during summers, the extreme heat event this weekend is one more example of how climate change is happening in New Hampshire right now, she said.

As the climate changes, Granite Staters can expect to see more days above 90 degrees in the summertime.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions can have a big impact on just how many of those super-hot days the state sees, Stampone said. Mitigating climate change could reduce the number of 90-degree days the state is projected to see every summer by half – from 50 to 25 – by the end of the century.

New Hampshire will also start getting warmer earlier in the spring, which is projected to bring negative health effects to residents, Stampone said.

“With the warming, we can see an increase in invasive species that are coming in with our warmer springs, we can see an increase in allergies,” she said.

Air quality also declines with heat, which particularly affects people in cities. Stampone said heat can also negatively affect health if people aren’t able to cool down at night.

“If our nighttime temperatures increase, along with the daytime temperatures, that cooling that we're used to having overnight is not going to happen,” she said.

In a historically cooler place like New Hampshire, increasing nighttime temperatures can pose a risk if our infrastructure for cooling isn’t capable of serving everyone who needs help.

As for this hot weekend, the National Weather Service encourages residents to stay hydrated, stay in an air-conditioned room, keep out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

As the heat index map shows, Concord, Keene and Manchester could see record highs. The Seacoast will be notably cooler.

There is a chance for an isolated thunderstorm Saturday and Sunday.

Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.

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