Planning for heat for near-term, long-term

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is working on an update of the Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan, which is intended to help coordinate public response to natural disasters. There’s a section on extreme heat that may be useful to know at a time when heat records are being surpassed across Europe. 

“Extreme heat can be defined as temperatures that hover 10°F or more above the average high temperature for the region, last for prolonged periods of time, and are often accompanied by high humidity,” reads page H-25 of the plan. “Under normal conditions, the human body’s internal thermostat produces perspiration that evaporates and cools the body. However, in extreme heat and high humidity, evaporation is slowed, and the body must work much harder to maintain a normal temperature.”

As with COVID-19, extreme heat effects take a toll more strongly on the elderly, people with respiratory difficulties, and those with other health vulnerabilities. 

The City of Charlottesville recently produced a summary of hazards associated with climate change. (read the report)

“The climate models show that by 2050, Charlottesville may experience more than twice as many extreme heat events annually as there were in 2020,” reads page 3 of that report. “By 2100, there may be almost seven times as many.” 

One way to cool off is at an outdoor pool. Both Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville have struggled to fill positions this summer. Charlottesville has offered signing bonuses for lifeguards and pool managers, but Deputy Parks and Recreation Director Vic Garber told City Council on Monday that the decision to only open one outdoor pool a day is still in effect.

“We are probably 70 percent there so we’re still rotating Washington Park and Onesty but we’re working very hard,” Garber said. 

The issue also came up at today’s meeting of the Albemarle Board of Supervisors.

“In the next ten days, we’re looking at temperatures each day going over 90 up to 100,” said Supervisor Chair Donna Price. “The last seven years have been the hottest in recorded history. Climate change is real and I would ask everyone to be careful, to do what you can to reduce the heat footprint that you are creating.”

Price said that includes reducing driving, drawing shades, and raising the thermostat for air conditioning. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the July 20, 2022 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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