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Mapping Tool Forecasts Extreme Heat Trends for California Neighborhoods

California Healthy Places Index: Extreme Heat Edition, developed by PHI’s Public Health Alliance of Southern California in partnership with the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, forecasts what neighborhoods or areas in California will be impacted the most by extreme heat.

the sun on a hot day

“We think we know hot.

But imagine temperatures surpassing 100 degrees 30, 40, even 50 days a year, or adapting to a climate where one day out of every three is above 90.

Wine Country will fare far better than Central and Southern California, but the face of the not-too-distant future has a sunburn and a sweaty brow, according to a recent forecast of community conditions around California.

A new online tool introduced earlier this month allows users to see what climate models say about their own county, community, ZIP code, census tract, even their neighborhood — down to their street address.

Sonoma tops the list of Sonoma County’s hottest cities, with the potential for 39 days a year at 100 degrees by late century, defined as the year 2070-2099 by the California Healthy Places Index: Extreme Heat Edition.

But by midcentury — 2035 to ‘64 — residents there will be looking at 23 days a year above 100 degrees and 90 days above 90 degrees.

Cities in neighboring counties — Ukiah, Calistoga, Lakeport and Clearlake — are projected to have even more extreme heat, raising greater concerns not just about sheer discomfort but about public health and safety.

“I don’t think people realize that extreme heat is actually the number one killer of any extreme weather” — more than hurricanes, more than flooding, more than wildfires, said John “Jake” Dialesandro, a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation who focuses on climate science. “People don’t really think about the consequences of heat.”

Projecting the upper limits

The California Healthy Places Index: Extreme Heat Edition is the latest effort to project the upper limits in California — and prod users to prepare for it. It is the product of a partnership between the UCLA Luskin Center and the Public Health Alliance of Southern California, a coalition of 10 local health departments in Southern California representing more than 60% of the state population.

The first version of the Healthy Places Index, launched in 2018, offered a public platform overlaying demographic, economic, environmental, health and other data to inform policymakers and advance health equity in California.

The Extreme Heat Edition, introduced in July, adds in projected heat exposure as well as place-based information on factors like tree canopy coverage, resilient housing, heat-island impacts and access to parks. Additional information includes data on the degree to which the population is vulnerable due to age, medical condition, economics or other reasons.”

Originally published by The Press Democrat

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