Climate Change

Cities Brace for Extreme Heat as 2024 Projected to be Among Hottest Years on Record

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Cities Prepare for Extreme Heat as 2024 Projected to be Among Hottest Years on Record

With summer just around the corner, cities across the South and Southwest are gearing up for extreme heat, especially after last year's record-breaking temperatures.

Phoenix, Arizona, which experienced 31 consecutive days above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in 2023, is taking proactive measures. Mayor Kate Gallego emphasizes the year-round preparation for heat, stating, "It's something that we know is coming, so we have to think about it even on the coldest day of the year."

The city is creating "cool corridors" by planting trees and using reflective pavement coatings to reduce urban heat. They are also focusing on mitigating high overnight temperatures, which were a major issue last summer.

"We were getting low temperatures that were setting records for how hot they were," Gallego said. "That's really pushing us to focus on how we design the city — what materials we use and how we protect open spaces, which tend to dissipate heat at night."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that 2024 will be among the five warmest years on record, with a 61% chance of being the hottest. This has prompted cities to re-evaluate their heat preparedness strategies.

Some initiatives include increasing shade in public spaces, strengthening healthcare systems to deal with heatstroke victims, and conducting outreach to outdoor workers, homeless populations, and other vulnerable communities.

As the summer months approach, cities are taking steps to ensure the safety and well-being of their residents during the anticipated extreme heat.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09