SALT LAKE CITY — Summer officially arrives Sunday, and it may bring with it the first 100-degree day of the year along the Wasatch Front.
Forecasters are predicting temperatures in the high 90s for the foreseeable future in the Salt Lake Valley, with the mercury likely hitting 100 degrees on Sunday.
The area averages about eight triple-digit days per year, but those are typically later in the season, according to KSL meteorologist Dan Guthrie.
“We’ll (usually) see two in July and six in August,” he explained. “Normally, our average first (100-degree day) is on July 6.”
As summertime settles in, the potential for rain diminishes and warm air begins to take over, Guthrie said. Considering the wetter and cooler than normal temperatures of May, as well as the relatively moderate weather so far this month, the heat wave may be a bit of jolt for some folks, he said.
But it’s not unprecedented.
Historically, the earliest triple-digit day was June 7, while the latest first 100-degree day was recorded on Aug. 6, Guthrie said. In at least two years, 1993 and 2004, there were no 100-degree days at all, he added.
The record for triple-digit days in one year is 21, set in 1960 and matched in 1994. Since then, there have been two summers — 2003 and 2007 — with 17 days of 100-degree temperatures.
The hottest part of Sunday will likely be between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., Guthrie said, so people should try to limit their outdoor activities during those peak hours. He also said air quality could become an issue as the heat traps stagnant, hot air over the valley in the afternoon and evening.
“Ozone will start to become an issue for some people … between 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock,” Guthrie said. “Push those things back to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. to avoid peak heat times and the air is not as bad.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 400 Americans die each year due to summer’s excessive heat. In recent years, extreme heat has caused more deaths than all other weather events, including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes.
During this period of local oppressive heat, the American Red Cross in Utah urges residents to take precautions.
Though anyone is potentially at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees, those of particular concern are the elderly and the very young who are most susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses.
Signs of heat-related illnesses include nausea, dizziness, flushed or pale skin, heavy sweating, and headaches. People with heat-related illness should be moved to a cool place, given cool water to drink, and ice packs or cool wet cloths should be applied to the skin.
“Our goal is to give people the information they need to protect themselves and their families from heat-related illnesses,” said Rich Woodruff, Red Cross director of communications for the Utah Region.
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Staying safe under the summer sun
• Dress for the heat. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors that absorb the sun’s rays. It's also a good idea to wear hats or to use an umbrella to provide cover from the sun.
• Stay hydrated. Carry water or juice and drink continuously, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
• Eat small meals and more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.
• Slow down and avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. Also, take frequent breaks.
• Stay indoors when possible. If air-conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine.
• Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on family, friends and neighbors who are elderly or ill and those who do not have air conditioning. Check on your animals frequently as well to make sure they are not suffering from the heat.
Source: American Red Cross
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