Skip to content

Understanding the Causes of Extreme Heat



Much of the country is dealing with extreme heat, significantly impacting business operations, employee health and productivity. Here is a closer look at what’s causing it.

Key Highlights

Extreme heat waves can persist for days, weeks, or even longer.

Global temperatures have been rising steadily, driving the intensity of heat waves.

Extreme heat presents many challenges for businesses across various industries.


Businesses across the country are dealing with scorching temperatures, with some areas seeing triple digits for weeks. Prolonged heat waves are becoming more frequent and severe, posing significant challenges to businesses across different industries.

What is extreme heat?  

Extreme heat refers to extended periods of exceptionally high temperatures that deviate significantly from historical averages. These heat waves can persist for days, weeks, or even longer, impacting ecosystems, human health and the economy.

What’s causing extreme heat?

Before finding ways to navigate extreme heat, it’s important to know what is behind the temperature surge.

  • Changing Climate: A changing climate is a significant driver of extreme heat events. As the Earth's average temperature rises due to the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, heat waves become more frequent, prolonged and intense. Human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat and lead to global warming. This warming effect amplifies heat waves, causing devastating impacts on ecosystems, human health and economies.
  • Urban Heat Island Effect: The urban island effect is when human-made structures, concrete and asphalt absorb and retain more heat than natural landscapes. This effect intensifies as cities grow and urbanization expands, making urban areas significantly warmer than surrounding rural regions. During heat waves, the urban heat island effect can exacerbate extreme temperatures, posing health risks for city dwellers and increasing energy demands for cooling systems.
  • Land Use Change: Changes in land use, such as deforestation and desertification, can impact local weather patterns. When vegetation is removed, there is a decrease in the cooling effect provided by plants through a process called evapotranspiration. Consequently, areas with reduced vegetation become more susceptible to extreme heat as they lose their natural cooling mechanisms.

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

What are the consequences for businesses?

Extreme heat presents many challenges for businesses across various industries.

  • Reduced Productivity: Industries that rely on outdoor operations, such as construction or utility companies, may experience reduced productivity during heat waves. Workers exposed to high temperatures are more susceptible to heat-related illnesses, decreasing work efficiency.
  • Impact on Supply Chains: Extreme heat can disrupt supply chains, especially in regions prone to heat waves. Transportation and logistics may face delays or shutdowns due to infrastructure damage or safety concerns, impacting the timely delivery of goods and services.
  • Increased Energy Demand: As temperatures soar, there is an upsurge in energy consumption for cooling purposes. This heightened demand strains power grids, potentially leading to power outages and affecting businesses reliant on a consistent energy supply.
  • Financial Losses: Extreme heat can cause financial losses in several ways, including crop failures in agriculture, reduced foot traffic for businesses dependent on tourism, and increased maintenance costs for damaged infrastructure.

>>READ MORE: AccuWeather introduces new index to better assess the impacts of heat waves

Extreme heat is an escalating global challenge with far-reaching implications for businesses. AccuWeather For Business has the tools you need to better prepare for the impacts of extreme heat and how to protect your employees and customers. 

Gain crucial insights to help you to navigate the challenges of sizzling temperatures by watching an on-demand version of our webinar, Extreme Heat: How it Impacts Your Business.

Is your business prepared for extreme heat? 

Contact us today.