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Utah 'HeatRisk' Warnings Available For Public Use

With record high temperatures this summer, Utahns can now better address and prepare for the heat with a new public heat advisory statement system.

The National Weather Service has developed an experimental HeatRisk Forecast that will allow Utahns to be aware of local heat risks and how residents can prepare.

“Everybody is at risk,” said Emily Esplin, a graduate student at Utah State University who works at the NWS. “When it gets super hot outside, it doesn’t matter because the temperature is above our body temperature, therefore, we are at risk. It doesn't matter how healthy we are.”

Esplin said that although everyone is at risk, there are particular groups of people such as the elderly, little children, athletes and construction workers who should be even more careful in the scorching heat.

“That’s the hottest time of day is between four and six in the afternoon, here in Utah,” Esplin said, “and that’s when people lots of times are outside. And so we need to be more aware of what the heat is like when we have to be out in it.”

Many Utahns may overlook the HeatRisk Forecast because they already know summer months will be hot, but Esplin said residents should not discount the warnings.

“Yeah, it’s not just like, ‘Oh, what’s the temperature tomorrow?’” Esplin said. “They are taking into consideration more of the duration aspect because they recognize that’s the problem, is people can’t get relief from the heat when it’s extended. When it’s not just today is 105, but tomorrow’s 90. When it’s several days like that, and it’s only 75 at night, that’s an issue.”

The NWS HeatRisk Forecast will allow users to indicate the approximate level of heat risk concern for any location by viewing a color scale to determine an area's heat danger.