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Heatwaves becoming more intense: "This is not your parents' or grandparents' weather"

Climate expert: Heatwaves becoming more intense
Climate expert: Heatwaves becoming more intense 01:52

MINNEAPOLIS -- When it comes to heatwaves, climate experts say this is not just summer being summer

"This is not your parents' or grandparents' weather. This is new weather that we're experiencing because of climate change," said Dr. John Abraham, a climate scientist and professor at the University of St Thomas.

He says our heatwaves are supercharged, and that can hurt our health, community and wallet.

"We recently had a major drought in the center of the us that cost our country $35 billion. That's with a 'b,'" said Abraham.

Heatwaves can impact farmers yields, and when that happens Dr. Abraham says we can all pay the price, even if it happens in another part of the country, with higher grocery costs.

"These things do affect us indirectly," said Abraham.

But heatwaves can also hit closer to home hurting our health

"Really what's hard on our body is the change in temp," said Dr. James Miner, Chair of Emergency Medicine at Hennepin Healthcare. He has seen dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke show up locally this summer.

"It's a big change for our bodies and it's quicker than our body can handle it a lot of times so it's really the fluctuations that get us when we get used to one temperature and all the sudden it's another temperature, we see a lot more people get sick," said Miner.

Then there's infrastructure. MnDOT is keeping an eye out for buckling roads, something they've had to deal with this month and last. And Xcel Energy says it's prepared its system to meet the higher demand for energy

"We need to adapt to it, and it means we need to adapt our infrastructure," said Abraham.


Dr. Abraham says the good news in all of this is that the price of renewable energy is dropping. He says using more wind or solar will help us curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Xcel Energy provided this statement about their preparations:

As climate change has led to more extreme weather events across the country, we have planned for increased energy use. We also are prepared to implement additional conservation steps that will help maintain grid reliability and adequate energy supply. This includes activating Savers Switch program and calling on our large customers that have agreed to reduce their energy use during peak demand. Controlled outages are a last resort to help support the energy grid and we do not anticipate needing to resort to such measures given our planning.

Xcel Energy has steps customers can take to save energy, including:

* Use blinds or curtains to regulate the temperature in your home – close them on hot days to keep the heat out.

* Make sure exterior doors are fully closed – Exterior doors that are left cracked open or not latched can lead to a loss of cooling in the home.

* Use ceiling fans to your advantage – Ceiling fans use less energy than air conditioning and can help cool a room during warmer days and should run counter-clockwise in the summer to circulate cooler air.

* Have air conditioner coils cleaned – Cleaned and maintained air conditioners improve efficiency and help save energy.

* Upgrade your thermostat – A programable thermostat will let you set the temperature in your home to use less energy when you're away. A smart thermostat will allow you to control the temperature when you're away.   

More information on ways to save energy can be found at

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