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Report shows how hot Utah is — and not in a good way

FILE - The Salt Lake City skyline in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, April 9, 2019.
A new report shows Utah is among the top five states in the country for temperature gains between 1970 and 2018, experiencing annual average temperatures increases of 3 degrees. The report by Climate Central shows Utah's warmest season is its spring.
Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report says Utah is among the top five states in the country for temperature gains over the last 48 years, inching up by 3 degrees for annual average temperatures.

The reportby Climate Central released this week to coincide with Earth Day observances puts Utah behind Delaware, Arizona and New Mexico for temperature increases.

Coming in at No. 1 was Alaska, which saw an average temperature increase of 4.22 degrees in that same time period.

"In certain respects this is not brand new information, but it is compelling because it shows certain areas being impacted more than others, and Utah is one of them," said Sophie Hayes, the senior staff attorney with Western Resource Advocates' clean energy program.

The report said for Utah, California, Nevada and Arizona, spring is the fastest warming season and one of the most signficant impacts is a prolonged allergy season.

The warmth is also expanding the seasonal range of mosquitos and increasing the risk of vector-borne illnesses.

Hayes said the report underscores the need for communities to have smart conversations about transitioning to renewable energy.

"It is really important that we get buy-in from these affected communities," she said.

A recent report by Shining Cities ranked Salt Lake City 11th in the nation per capita for solar energy, but Hayes said it is important for the rest of the state to catch on.

Cities such as Moab and Park City have made commitments to go 100 percent renewable within a certain time frame, and new legislation passed this year will cobble together agreements to make that happen.

Climate Central describes itself as an independent organization of scientists and journalists who research and report facts on the changing climate and its impacts on the public.