POCATELLO — For the first time in history, the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for eastern Idaho.
In preparation for a heat wave that meteorologists call “potentially historic and dangerous,” the NWS issued the Excessive Heat Watch Thursday night for next Monday through Thursday. Forecasters said next week’s temperatures will likely flirt with or break all-time record highs for the region.
The forecast for next week shows temperatures in Idaho Falls sitting around 97 degrees for most of the week but reaching 101 degrees on Tuesday. Pocatello can expect to see temperatures at or above 100 degrees for most of the week, with the lowest high of 98 degrees on Wednesday. The forecast calls for the high temperatures to last until July 3 or potentially into July 4.
“There have been some changes in what we’re seeing in the model guidance,” Pocatello NWS lead metrologist Dawn Harmon said. “Although the exact high temperatures are still a little bit uncertain into the middle of next week and then beyond through the Fourth of July weekend we are expecting temperatures to be quite hot, well above normal.”
Harmon explained the potentially record-setting heat wave is a result of high-pressure trapping heat in a dome across the Pacific Northwest. As the high-pressure migrates across eastern Idaho, the heat wave will linger through the week.
“The extreme and long-duration heat will increase the potential for heat-related illnesses if preventative measures are not taken, especially for those participating in outdoor work or recreation, those who lack adequate cooling, and those who are otherwise heat-sensitive,” the NWS said in a news release.
The National Weather Service says to consider the following in preparation for the heat wave.
- If you have family members, friends, or neighbors who are sensitive to the heat and/or do not have air conditioning, now is the time to begin planning if they will need to stay at a safer location.
- Check frequently on family, friends, and neighbors. The homeless, elderly, children, pregnant, and those with health issues are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.
- Never leave children or pets unattended in vehicles under any circumstances. Lethal temperatures can be reached within minutes, even with the windows cracked.
- Consider rescheduling outdoor events entirely, or moving them to cooler periods in the late evening or early morning.
Frequently spend time in air-conditioned rooms or the shade, and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illnesses.
- Drink plenty of fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
- Avoid strenuous activities. Take frequent breaks
This month also has the potential to be the driest June on record in some parts of eastern Idaho.
In 1974 Pocatello saw a record low of 0.02 inches of rainfall. Thursday night the Gate City saw its first drizzle of the month with .01 inches at the Pocatello airport. Idaho Falls’ driest Junes on record were in 2016 and 2012 with .05 inches of rainfall. Idaho Falls has already exceeded that number with 0.16 inches of rain.
“If we manage to miss some thunderstorm activity today (Friday), that might be our last chance for June,” Harmon said.
For the latest forecast information, visit the EastIdahoNews.com weather page.
Impact to the power grid
The high temperatures not only stress the human body but also require the area’s power grid to put out more electricity. With people running the air conditioner, power bills are often the highest during the summer months and next week is no exception, Rocky Mountain Power spokesman David Eskelsen said.
“Our equipment is generally operating at its full capacity at certain times of the day,” Eskelsen said about the power grid in the summer. “Extreme weather in either the summer or winter has the potential to produce localized outages and we urge people to be prepared.”
While the power company says they prepare their system to handle the summertime power consumption load, customers can always do their part to reduce their use and bill.
“Because space cooling is such an issue in the summer, set your thermostat to as high as comfortable,” Eskelsen said. “We recommend 78 (degrees) as a starting point. If you set your air conditioner significantly lower than that it will cost more to run.”
Idaho Falls Power also gave energy-saving tips on Friday in preparation for the upcoming heatwave.
- Use fans to circulate air in your home. Even with an air conditioner, fans help circulate the air to keep your home cooler.
- Close curtains and blinds during the day to keep out sunlight.
- Open windows at night to circulate cooler air and let hot air dissipate.
- Turn off and unplug unused appliances or electronics.
- Cook meals outdoors on a grill or use a microwave. Avoid using the stove or oven, which add heat to your home.
- Do laundry or dishes during off-peak hours, usually in the evenings. Dry laundry outside or on a line if possible.
- Seal doors and windows. Gaps let heat in and cool air escape.
- Check and replace air filters to allow more airflow and to optimize energy usage.
- Replace old, incandescent light bulbs with new, low-energy, low heat LED bulbs.
- Upgrade your thermostat. New, smart thermostats can more accurately and effectively optimize indoor temperatures and energy usage.
- Check your insulation. Poorly insulated homes are harder to cool in the summer and heat in the winter.
Idaho Power services a significant portion of the eastern Idaho population in areas like Pocatello and Chubbuck. The company is also asking people to conserve energy. Specifically between the hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
“Conserving energy during these hours of highest demand, and when solar power is fading, can help prevent reliability issues due to the region-wide strain on the grid,” Idaho Power said in a news release. “The potential impacts of the heat wave are intensified this year due to drought and a shortage of regional transmission connections outside our system to move energy where it’s needed.”
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