N. Utah heat wave setting records

Monday , July 01, 2013 - 1:11 PM

West Heat Wave

Elephants at Utah's Hogle Zoo are cooled off with water hoses Friday, June 28, 2013, in Salt lake...

Brady McCombs

SALT LAKE CITY — The scorching summer heat in Northern Utah is rewriting the weather history books — and it’s expected to continue through the Fourth of July.

June was the third-hottest in Salt Lake City history, highlighted by the record high for the month of 105, set on Friday and Saturday.

The forecast for the first week of July calls for temperatures of 100 degrees or higher Tuesday through Thursday.

That would mark a streak of eight straight days of triple-digit heat, said National Weather Service meteorologist Nanette Hosenfeld. The record is 10 consecutive days, set in 2003.

The heat wave comes in a city much more accustomed to ice and snow than searing temperatures. Salt Lake City registers an average of just three 100-degree days each year, she said.

“People just aren’t used to this,” said Jess Gomez, spokesman at Intermountain Medical Center in the Salt Lake City suburb of Murray. “This heat wave is fairly significant.”

Pools, splash parks and lakes have been brimming with people looking to find relief from the blistering sun. Not everybody is taking proper care of themselves.

Intermountain Medical Center is seeing a spike in cases of dehydration and overexposure, Gomez said. None has been life threatening. The hospital expects more visits from people suffering from heat-related illness this week as high temperatures persist, Gomez said.

“Typically we see more and more patients come in after a sustained period of heat,” Gomez said.

A heat wave is raging across the Western United States, with temperatures reaching 117 in Las Vegas and 119 in Phoenix over the weekend.

In Salt Lake City, the heat caused an interstate on-ramp to buckle over the weekend, and is hampering firefighters in their battle against three wildfires in Utah.

On Monday, a malfunctioning air conditioner may have caused a volatile chemical to leak in a Salt Lake City warehouse, officials said. Salt Lake City fire spokesman Jasen Asay said crews detonated several containers of the organic peroxide called Trigonox on Monday morning after working overnight to figure out how to clean it up safely.

Hospital officials are urging people to drink plenty of water, even before they are thirsty, and avoid strenuous physical activity in the midday between 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.Gomez said people should also keep an eye out for young and old who may be vulnerable.

On Sunday at noon, a 2-year-old was found walking alone, barefoot, in a Salt Lake City apartment complex. Police officers couldn’t find the child’s parents, and took the toddler into state custody. Three hours later, police received a phone call that the child was missing. An investigation is underway.

For now, at least, the all-time high for Salt Lake City is safe. Temperatures aren’t expected to come close to 107, the record set in July 2002 and July 1960.

The forecast calls for highs of 101 this week with a slight cool down coming on Friday with a high of 98 degrees, Hosenfeld said. That’s still about 10 degrees hotter than usual for this time of year, she said.

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