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Share your story: Gonzaga group seeks public input on extreme heat experiences

Aug. 9, 2022 Updated Wed., Aug. 10, 2022 at 9:13 p.m.

Ben Brown, a Gonzaga Unversity student who works at the Center for Climate, Society, and the Environment, demonstrates how to mount a sensor on a passenger car window to read the ambient air temperature as the car moves around a predetermined route to measure where the temperature is hotter or cooler July 16 at Gonzaga University. Dozens of volunteers drove the routes three different times through the day. When the information is gathered, the sensors will be sent to a clearing house where the information is downloaded, then turned into a “heat map” of Spokane. The information will be used to discuss mitigation efforts to prevent heat deaths and most effective ways to cool people down in high temperature periods.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Ben Brown, a Gonzaga Unversity student who works at the Center for Climate, Society, and the Environment, demonstrates how to mount a sensor on a passenger car window to read the ambient air temperature as the car moves around a predetermined route to measure where the temperature is hotter or cooler July 16 at Gonzaga University. Dozens of volunteers drove the routes three different times through the day. When the information is gathered, the sensors will be sent to a clearing house where the information is downloaded, then turned into a “heat map” of Spokane. The information will be used to discuss mitigation efforts to prevent heat deaths and most effective ways to cool people down in high temperature periods. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Gonzaga University is asking Spokane residents to help it understand their experiences with extreme heat.

The survey residents are asked to complete is the second phase of the Center for Climate, Society, and the Environment’s “Spokane Beat the Heat” project. The project was developed to help the community understand and respond to future heat waves so that no one dies from hot weather. Last summer’s heat wave killed 20 people in Spokane County.

The center completed the first phase last month by mapping out urban heat islands throughout the city. Brian Henning, director of Gonzaga’s Center for Climate, said last month the high-resolution heat maps will take six to eight weeks to complete.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funded the urban heat island mapping campaign with a $10,000 grant. Spokane was one of 14 U.S. cities and counties the NOAA chose for the campaign and the only one in the Northwest.

The survey seeks to fill in the gaps the quantitative mapping could not represent, Henning wrote in an email. He said the center wants to hear from community members about how extreme heat impacts their lives, how they address it and what more could be done.

The survey can be taken at gonzaga.edu/HeatSurvey. Henning said the survey does not yet have a close date.

The data from the survey will be available to the public via gonzaga.edu/BeatTheHeat. It will be shared with the city of Spokane and community partners to help inform decisions, Henning said.

He said the goal is to use the urban heat island map and data from the survey to work with partners on a heat action plan for Spokane so they are better prepared for next summer’s heat waves.

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