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

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.

2 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.

3 days ago

Colorado River settlement center of new Navajo Nation push...

Associated Press

Tribes say their future is at stake as they push for Congress to consider Colorado River settlement

Navajo officials are celebrating the signing of legislation outlining a proposed Colorado River settlement that would ensure water rights.

5 days ago

Arizona doctors California abortions...

Associated Press

Arizona doctors can come to California to perform abortions under new law signed by Gov. Newsom

Arizona doctors can temporarily come to California to perform abortions for their patients under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

6 days ago

Father convicted of first-degree murder in northern Arizona...

Associated Press

Arizona man convicted of first-degree murder in starvation death of 6-year-old son

A northern Arizona father was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2020 starvation death of his 6-year-old son.

6 days ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in a courtroom next to his lawyer Todd Blanche before the start ...

Associated Press

Trump hush money trial enters new phase after defense rests without testimony from former president

Donald Trump's hush money trial is now closer to the moment when the jury will begin deciding the former president's fate.

8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

Feds hope new website can prevent deaths from worsening heat