AP

Feds hope new website can prevent deaths from worsening heat

Jul 26, 2022, 1:36 PM | Updated: 1:49 pm

This image shows the Heat.gov website on a computer Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. Th...

This image shows the Heat.gov website on a computer Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. The federal government hopes the new website can help people and local governments beat the increasingly deadly heat of an ever-warming world. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government hopes a new website can help people and local governments beat the increasingly deadly heat of an ever-warming world.

Days after nearly half the country — 154.6 million people — sweated through a blistering heat wave, which for the West, hasn’t quite finished, the Biden Administration Tuesday unveiled heat.gov, which includes maps, forecasts and health advice. The government can’t lower temperatures in the short-term, but it can shrink heat’s death toll, officials said.

“July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded on Earth and summers are getting hotter and deadlier,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Rick Spinrad. “The annual average temperature of the contiguous U.S. has already warmed over the past few decades and is projected to rise by 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 to 5 degrees Celsius) by the end of this century.”

But officials said even though heat is the No. 1 weather killer, and warming is worsening, deaths can still be prevented. That’s the purpose of the website.

“We don’t have to accept” heat deaths, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Tuesday. “This doesn’t have to be this way.”

The new website is aimed both at local planners to help them decide whether it is too hot for road work, at farmers for planting and harvesting advice, and even “a mom trying to decide this summer: Is it safe for your kids to play outside or to go to summer camp?” Raimondo said.

Pat Breysse, director of environmental health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the predictions the new website offers can help authorities plan for extreme heat in advance and protect people who are most at risk, by setting up cooling centers and providing water, for example.

“There’s a host of things that we can do with this advance warning from the data that NOAA provides us, particularly from a health standpoint,” Breysse said. He pointed to earlier efforts by Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to change weather service heat warnings to make them more effective for New England residents.

The new website could be put to use immediately because record-breaking temperatures are forecast for Spokane, Washington, and Boise, Idaho — heat in the low to mid 100s, Spinrad said.

The website follows other Biden Administration action on heat, including financial aid to help on air conditioning for low-income residents, grants to build new cooling centers, upcoming rules for workers outside in the heat and help for cities to cool urban heat islands with more tree cover. Calling climate change “an emergency,” but stopping short of invoking emergency measures, President Biden last week promised more action to fight global warming.

Outside experts said the multi-agency website and action are overdue.

“This is an important step for elevating the risks of heat,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd, past president of the American Meteorological Society. “For too long, heat has been one of the deadliest weather hazards, but has languished from an urgency standpoint,” ignored by the public, media and decision-makers. Shepherd said people scamper inside at the threat of lightning or tornado, but exert themselves when the heat index is 100 or higher.

North Carolina state climatologist Kathie Dello said, “extreme heat is one of our greatest challenges as a county and I’m glad to see the interagency cooperation.”

It’s important that the website shows that heat isn’t just a problem for today “but in the future,” Dello said.

Given warming trends, this summer with its widespread heat waves “is likely to be one of the coolest summers of the rest of our lives,” Raimondo said. “That’s a pretty scary thing.”

—-

Wildeman reported from Hartford, Connecticut.

___

Follow AP’s climate and environment coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate-and-environment

___

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears

and Mary Katherine Wildeman at @mkwildeman

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch ro...

Associated Press

Plane that did ‘Dutch roll’ on flight from Phoenix suffered structural damage, investigators say

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane's structure after it went into a “Dutch roll” during a flight from Phoenix last month.

2 days ago

This photo provided by Randy Shannon shows Mooney Falls on the Havasupai reservation outside the vi...

Associated Press

Dozens report illness after trips to waterfalls near Grand Canyon

Dozens of hikers say they fell ill during trips to a popular Arizona tourist destination that features towering blue-green waterfalls deep in a gorge neighboring Grand Canyon National Park.

3 days ago

Mugshot of Rudy Giuliani, who was processed Monday, June 10, 2024, in the Arizona fake electors cas...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani posts $10K cash bond after being processed in Arizona fake electors case

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York City mayor and Donald Trump attorney, was processed Monday in the Arizona fake electors case.

5 days ago

FILE - White House former chief of staff Mark Meadows speaks with reporters at the White House, Wed...

Associated Press

Former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleads not guilty in Arizona fake elector case

Former Donald Trump presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows and Trump 2020 Election Day operations director Michael Roman pleaded not guilty Friday in Phoenix to nine felony charges for their roles in an effort to overturn Trump's Arizona election loss to Joe Biden.

9 days ago

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

19 days ago

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near...

Associated Press

Man accused of starting wildfire in national wildlife preserve in Yuma

A Yuma man has been arrested for allegedly starting a wildfire in a national wildlife preserve near the California border.

20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinic visits boost student training & community health

Going to a Midwestern University Clinic can help make you feel good in more ways than one.

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Feds hope new website can prevent deaths from worsening heat