The American Meteorological Society defines the term as “an exceptionally hot air mass that develops when high pressure aloft prevents warm air below from rising, thus trapping the warm air as if it were in a dome.” Under the dome the hot air produces warmer air, drys out soil, and lessens evaporation.  The longer the heat dome lasts, the hotter the air gets. The dome can stretch over a large geographical area, and remain in effect for days or weeks.


The heat dome creates a stagnated, very hot and very dry condition that dries out all the vegetation, aggravating fire risks.

The dome acts like a lid on a pot, trapping the heat and cooking everything in the pot.  Including the people who are living below the dome.


Some further ideas to explore on Heat Domes:

What are the differences between heat waves and heat domes?

What has been the longest time period for the presence of a heat dome?

To what extent do heat domes increase adverse health effects from hot air?



Tammy Webber, “What’s a heat dome? Here’s why so much of the US is broiling this week,” AP (18 June 2024).

Michael Le Page, “What is a heat dome and are they getting worse with climate change?  Mexico and the southern US have seen extreme temperatures due to a heat dome, a weather phenomenon that will become more intense with climate change,” New Scientist (7 June 2024).

Hayley Smith, “Heat wave or heat dome? Yes, there’s a difference,” Los Angeles Times (5 June 2024).

Alex Wigglesworth, “Climate change supercharged a heat dome, intensifying 2021 fire season, study finds,” PhysOrg (24 April 2024).

Sarah Gibbens, “What is a heat dome? Pacific Northwest swelters in record temperatures,” National Geographic (29 June 2021).

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