Publication Date October 25, 2017

Utahns are feeling more extreme summer heat due to climate change, study says

United States
The Salt Lake Tribune Participants rally while holding their 'Student Resolution on Climate Change the Governor's Mansion during the Utah People's Climate March Saturday, April 29, 2017. Photo: Chris Detrick

Most Americans — and Utahns — face more days of extreme heat each summer than they did a few decades ago, according to a study that highlights the health effects of that trend.

The study released Tuesday by the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) finds that two-thirds of the U.S. population, or about 210 million people, live in counties that have encountered more extreme heat days each year over the past decade than they did from 1961 to 1990.

An even higher percentage of Utahns, 86 percent, live in counties experiencing more days of extreme heat than in the past, according to the report. The NRDC cited Utah as one of 20 states, plus Washington, D.C., with populations especially hard hit by extended and sweltering heat waves. Heat stress, the report said, currently causes almost 250 emergency room visits per year in the state.

Extreme heat days, according to the study, are those days between June 1 to Aug. 31 with peak temperatures hotter than 90 percent of the rest of the days that summer. The NRDC analysis found 11 of Utah’s 29 counties have experienced more than five additional extreme heat days on average each summer over the past 10 years — including the population centers of Washington, Utah and Cache counties.