COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — As a ridge of high pressure pushes warm, moist air in from the Gulf of Mexico, the Carolinas braced Friday for multiple days of temperatures expected above 100 degrees.
The excessive heat is not expected to dissipate until Wednesday, just in time for July Fourth.
Extreme heat watches and warnings were in effect Friday and Saturday for coastal areas in North and South Carolina, where forecasters warn outside temperatures could feel as high as 118. The cause is a strong area of high pressure that provoked high temperatures over the Central Plains for the past week. It will make a home over the Tennessee Valley and Deep South on Friday, then move over the Southeast.
During the busy, pre-July 4th travel weekend, AAA Carolinas warned the more than 1 million motorists expected to be traveling in both states around the holiday to take precautions to ensure that their vehicles don't overheat.
"In the summer, heat is your vehicle's worst enemy, and the most vulnerable component is the battery, followed by your air conditioner," said Dusty Holcomb, president of the Charlotte, N.C.-based motor club. "Heat dries up fluids and reduces the battery's ability to function properly. Weak cooling systems often fail in extreme heat."
Holcomb advised motorists to check those systems before hitting the road as well as coolant and anti-freeze levels.
In South Carolina, state officials also warned those who might be staying at home to be aware of the heat. On Friday, South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental control issued a poor-air-quality alert for 34 of the state's 46 counties because of increased ozone levels, with officials recommending that anyone with respiratory problems stay inside if possible.
The orange alert covers all the counties in the Midlands and Upstate and also includes several Pee Dee counties and the Charleston area.
Officials also warned against leaving children or pets in vehicles, even for a short time, as temperatures inside can quickly climb higher than 150 degrees. In North Carolina, officials said that a child in Burke County died earlier this month after being left in a hot car, the first such death in the state since 2009.
Some communities are also offering cooling stations, where people who don't have air conditioning in their homes can go for some relief and water. Interim Anderson County Administrator Rusty Burns told WYFF-TV that pets are also welcome at the seven cooling stations open around the county this weekend.
Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP