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AccuWeather introduces new index to better assess the impacts of heat waves



AccuWeather's new HeatWave Counter and Severity Index™ tracks the duration and intensity of heat waves, helping businesses prepare for extreme heat.

Key Highlights

AccuWeather's HeatWave Counter and Severity Index™ allows businesses to assess the potential impacts of extreme heat accurately.

Extreme heat claims, on average, more lives in the U.S. each year than any other weather hazard.

Businesses can gain crucial insights into climate change impacts and enhance safety measures during life-threatening heat events.

AccuWeather, renowned for its forecasts backed by Superior Accuracy™, has unveiled a groundbreaking tool to enhance our understanding of heat waves—the AccuWeather HeatWave Counter and Severity Index™. This new index helps to track heat waves' severity, intensity and duration and was developed over several years. This tool can help businesses make informed decisions and better prepare for such conditions by accurately assessing the impacts of extreme heat.


Extreme heat claims more lives in the United States each year than any other weather-related hazard. Scorching temperatures claimed an average of 158 lives per year from 1992 through 2021, according to a new study. That surpasses the annual death tolls caused by flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning during the same period. This alarming statistic highlights the significance of understanding and preparing for extreme heat events.


Heat waves typically don’t receive as much attention as tornadoes, hurricanes or floods. One of the reasons is the lack of measurement of the extent and severity of heat waves. AccuWeather’s HeatWave Counter and Severity Index™ bridges this gap. Each location has a unique temperature threshold for defining a heat wave based on local climatology. 

>>READ MORE: Why are cities hiring Chief Heat Officers?

For example, in New York City, a three-day heat wave featuring a high of 90 degrees Fahrenheit on each day would be measured as a “3” on the index, while a three-day heat wave with temperatures reaching the middle to high 90s might be measured as an “8” on the index. 

The higher the index value, which again factors in the intensity and duration of a heat wave, the more severe the heat wave. 


Utilizing its extensive historical weather data, AccuWeather has analyzed past heat waves in major cities to provide crucial context. By comparing present heat waves to previous summers, businesses can gain insights into climate change impacts and make well-informed decisions during life-threatening heat events.

>>READ MORE: Extreme Heat: How it can impact your business


The HeatWave Counter and Severity Index™ enables businesses to plan their activities, prioritize safety measures and improve overall well-being. Here are some ways this new tool can impact industries: 

  • Construction: Construction companies can better plan work schedules, provide heat safety training and implement measures to prevent heat-related illnesses among workers during heat waves.
  • Energy and Utilities: The index can assist energy companies in anticipating increased energy demand, optimizing resource allocation and implementing contingency plans to maintain a reliable power supply during heat waves.
  • Hospitality and Tourism: Hotels and resorts can better prepare for increased cooling demand, adjust staffing levels and provide guests with safety information during periods of extreme heat.
  • Schools and Sports Teams: Schools and sports teams can utilize the index to effectively plan practice schedules, adjust outdoor activities, and implement necessary safety measures to protect students and athletes from the risks of extreme heat during practices and events.

Extreme heat can lead to intense heat waves that can impact energy demand, consumer buying behavior, labor scheduling and other essential tasks you manage every day. AccuWeather For Business uses enhanced techniques to produce a single historical, current and predicted weather data database to help your business achieve long-term strategic success.

Is your business prepared for the dangers of extreme heat? AccuWeather for Business's Historical Data can help your business win against Mother Nature. Download a free sample today!

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Is your business prepared for the dangers of extreme heat?

Download a free sample.