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Heat hitting Utah early; record highs expected

SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly 8,000 Utah senior citizens were planning on attending an organized field trip to Utah's Hogle Zoo Tuesday. But the plans changed with the scorching heat wave hitting Utah and the West.

"It's not wise to have thousands of seniors in weather that's 100-plus degrees. Nothing good can happen from that," said Gary Fonia, marketing director for Senior Media, which organized the event. "There's no question in my mind it was the right thing to do."

The trip was rescheduled to late July at the indoor, air-conditioned Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.

"We're not here to hurt those in our senior community, but rather to reach out to each of them in the most positive and supporting manner possible. This does not include placing them in harm's way on a day when record­-setting temperatures are expected," Fonia said.

The searing heat wave might break several Utah temperature records over the next few days, according to the National Weather Service. And it's only the middle of June.

Record-breaking highs

A high pressure is bringing the hottest temperatures of the year to the southwestern United States. The wave is expected to peak on Tuesday. Sweltering temperatures are expected to vary from 105 to 115 degrees each afternoon during the week.

"It's a little bit early to get this kind of heat," said KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank. "The good news is this isn't a prolonged heat wave."

Along the Wasatch Front, Salt Lake City is expected to hit 100 degrees on Tuesday and 99 degrees Wednesday. By the weekend, the highs will drop to the upper 80s. St. George should reach 112 degrees Tuesday and peak at 113 degrees Wednesday before dropping to 107 on Sunday.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory until Thursday night for Blanding, Moab, Castle Valley, Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park and Fry Canyon.

The weather service also issued an excessive heat warning for Lake Powell, St. George, Zion National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bullfrog.

Several locations may break state temperature records on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. The forecasts include:

• Alta: 80 degrees; the record is 79

• Bryce Canyon: 89; the record is 86 degrees

• Kanab: 103 degrees; the record is 102

• Ogden: 97; the record is 96 degrees

The following areas are expected to reach record highs or come close:

• Brigham City: 96; the record is 96 degrees

• Cedar City: 100 degrees; the record is 100

• Logan: 95 degrees; the record is 95

• Randolph: 86 degrees; the record is 86

• Salt Lake City: 100 degrees; the record is 101

"We're flirting with some records here in the north, but we're likely to break records in St. George," Eubank said. "It's been a long time since it's been this hot this early in St. George."

St. George city crews have shifted to a summer schedule, which means crews are working and getting off earlier in the day in an effort to stay safe and cool through the summer, according to city spokesman Marc Mortensen.

"It's sooner than normal. Typically we experience these temperatures mid-July through the middle of August," he said. "This just seems to be abnormally soon."

Katie Swanson, a manager at the St. George city pool, said she expects lots of people will head to the pool this week.

"It's usually really busy during the summers, anyway," she said. "They're coming to cool off because it's really hot."

The highest verified temperature ever recorded in Utah was in St. George, where temperatures reached 117 degrees on July 5, 1985, the weather service reported.

Heat illnesses

The excessive heat may cause dehydration, hyperthermia and heat cramps, as well as heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the National Weather Service report warned.

Signs of heat exhaustion include pale or flushed skin, heavy sweating, headaches, nausea, dizziness, weakness and exhaustion.

Signs of heat stroke includes hot, red skin, changes in consciousness, vomiting and high body temperature. Heat illnesses can be life-threatening. If someone is exhibiting signs of a heat stroke, call 911.

A person with heat exhaustion or heat stroke should move to a cooler place and apply cool, wet towels or ice packs to their skin. If the person is conscious, try drinking small amounts of water.

Tips to stay cool

To avoid heat illnesses, officials suggest:

  • Drink lots of water
  • Reduce time spent outdoors
  • Wear loose-fitting and lightweight clothing
  • Stay out of the sun when possible
  • If you're going outside, wear sunscreen and a hat
  • Check on neighbors and relatives who do not have air conditioning
  • Stay in air-conditioned places
  • Take frequent breaks if working outdoors

Officials also warn parents not to leave their children inside hot cars. On a 90-degree day, a car can reach temperatures of 120 degrees within 15 minutes, the weather service reported. "Sometimes people just forget they have their child in the car," said Sgt. Jalaine Hawkes with the Utah Department of Public Safety. "Especially small infants really fall victim to that because they don't make a lot of noise."

She suggested leaving a kids toy in the front seat as a reminder to drivers that they have a child in the back seat.

"We don't really think that it's bad people that that happens to a lot of times," Hawkes said. "It's really simple thinking errors."

Pet owners also shouldn't leave their pets in cars. Make sure pets have shade and plenty of water if they are kept outside, and remember walking dogs on asphalt during high temperatures can burn their feet.

If someone see a child or pet inside a hot car, Hawkes said they should call 911.

"Especially in temperatures right now, I would call immediately. I would not wait one second," she said. "It is absolutely not safe."