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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 released the Excessive Heat Watch for next Monday through Thursday on Thursday night. Forecasters said temperatures for the next week are likely to flirt with or break the all-time record highs for the region.
The forecast for next week shows that temperatures in Idaho Falls will be 97 degrees for most of the week but will reach 101 degrees on Tuesday. Pocatello can expect 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 3rd or possibly until July 4th.
“There have been some changes in what we see in the model guide,” said Pocatello NWS ‘chief metrologist, Dawn Harmon. “Although the exact high temperatures are still somewhat uncertain until the middle of next week and then until the weekend of July 4th, we expect quite hot temperatures that are well above normal.”
Courtesy of the National Weather Service
Harmon explained that the potentially record-breaking heat wave is the result of high pressure inclusions in a dome in the Pacific Northwest. As the high pressure drifts over east Idaho, the heat wave will last all week.
“The extreme and prolonged heat will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses if preventive measures are taken, especially for those who participate in outdoor work or leisure activities who lack adequate cooling and who are otherwise sensitive to heat,” said the NWS in a press release.
The National Weather Service says that here are some things to keep in mind when preparing for the heat wave.
- If you have family members, friends, or neighbors who are sensitive to heat and / or don't have air conditioning, now is the time to start planning whether they need to stay somewhere safer.
- Check family, friends, and neighbors frequently. The homeless, the elderly, children, pregnant women and people with health problems are most at risk from heat-related diseases.
- Under no circumstances should children or pets be left unattended in vehicles. Even with cracked windows, lethal temperatures can be reached within minutes.
- Consider postponing outdoor events altogether or moving them to cooler times in the late evening or early morning.
Frequently spend time in air-conditioned rooms or in the shade, and stay out of the sun as much as possible. Air conditioning is the strongest protective factor against heat-related illnesses.
- Drink a lot, even when you are not thirsty.
- Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
- Avoid strenuous activities. Take frequent breaks
This month also has the potential to become 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 Gate City experienced its first drizzle of 0.01 inches at Pocatello Airport. The Idaho Falls driest June were 2016 and 2012 with 0.5 inches of rainfall. Idaho Falls has already exceeded that number with 0.16 inches of rain.
“If we manage to miss out on thunderstorm activity today (Friday) this could be our last chance for June,” said Harmon.
For the latest forecast information, visit the EastIdahoNews.com weather page.
Effects on the power grid
The high temperatures not only put a strain on the human body, but also require the area's power grid to produce more electricity. Because air conditioners are human-operated, utility bills are often highest during the summer months and next week is no exception, said David Eskelsen, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power.
“Our devices are usually at full capacity at certain times of the day,” said Eskelsen about the power grid in summer. “Extreme weather in summer or winter can lead to local outages and we ask people to prepare for it.”
While the energy supplier says that it is preparing its system for electricity consumption in summer, customers can always do their part to reduce their consumption and their bills.
“Since room cooling is such a problem in summer, set your thermostat as high as comfortable,” said Eskelsen. “We recommend 78 (degrees) as a starting point. If you set your air conditioning system significantly lower, it will be more expensive to operate. ”
Idaho Falls Power also gave energy-saving tips on Friday in preparation for the coming heat wave.
- Use fans to circulate the air in your home. Even with air conditioning, fans help circulate the air to keep your home cooler.
- Close curtains and blinds during the day to keep out the sunlight.
- Open the windows at night to circulate cooler air and vent hot air.
- Switch off any devices or electronics that are not in use and pull the plug.
- Cook meals outdoors on a grill or use a microwave. Avoid using stoves or ovens that add warmth to your home.
- Wash laundry or dishes outside of peak hours, usually in the evening. If possible, dry the laundry outside or on a line.
- Seal doors and windows. Gaps allow heat to penetrate and cool air to escape.
- Check and replace the air filters to allow more airflow and optimize energy use.
- Replace old lightbulbs with new, energy-saving, low-heat LED lamps.
- Upgrade your thermostat. New, intelligent thermostats can optimize internal temperatures and energy consumption more precisely and effectively.
- Check your insulation. Poorly insulated houses are more difficult to cool in summer and more difficult to heat in winter.
Idaho Power supplies a significant portion of the population of eastern Idaho in areas such as Pocatello and Chubbuck. The company also urges people to save energy. Especially between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.
“Saving energy during those hours of highest demand and when solar power is running low can help avoid reliability issues due to regional grid loads,” Idaho Power said in a press release. “The potential impact of the heat wave this year is compounded by drought and a lack of regional transmission links outside of our system to get energy where it is needed.”