Image - CBSnews.comIsolated thunderstorms, but not until around 4PM. High of 83.

As the temperatures in New York City begin flirting with the 90s, consider this: Spain is already in the middle of a heatwave that has already killed seven people. You may also remember the US media covering last year's French heatwave, which killed almost 15,000 people, mainly elderly women.

Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at Northwestern University, wonders if you know about the 500+ people who died due to a Chicago heatwave in July 1995. Klinenberg calls Mayor Daly's actions in what should have been a "definitive moment in contemporary American life" tantamount to "denial and suppression":

Mayor Richard M Daley's initial response to the crisis was to declare that the public should not "blow it out of proportion. We go to extremes in Chicago. And that's why people like Chicago."

For a few days city leaders worked to suppress the death figures. According to one disgruntled official, the health department "received a call from the mayor's office with the instruction that no one was to see those numbers".

Incredibly, Chicago had an existing heat emergency plan, but chose not to activate it. Has anyone read Klinenberg's book about the subject, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago? Sounds amazing. The group blog Crooked Timber also recalls Klinenberg identifying that fewer women died in Chicago due to their larger social networks.

The NYC Office of Emergency Management has an Extreme Heat preparation guide, including information on cooling centers, how to know if you're experiencing heat stroke, and a really nice glossary covering all heat-related terminology. They also "ask New Yorkers to check up on older neighbors who may be isolated from friends and family," and note that, contrary to what many (including Gothamist) may think, July is the city's warmest month, with an average temperature of 81.4 degrees.

Related: France Ready to Combat Heat Wave (July 1, 2004)