King County develops Heat Mitigation Strategy as weather gets into the 80s next week

After an unusually rainy season stretching into late June, Seattle is expected to finally experience some warm weather this weekend with temperatures expected to hit the low 80s starting Saturday, June 25.

After the summer 2021 heat waves saw record-breaking temperatures across the Pacific Northwest, as well as 38 heat-related deaths, the city of Seattle has announced they will debut their Extreme Heat Mitigation Strategy Friday, June 24.

Breakdown of records set during Washington’s heat wave

The briefing will occur on the one-year anniversary of the three-day heatwave from last summer after the city successfully campaigned for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant and conducted a heat mapping project in 2020 with the City of Seattle

In anticipation of the announcement, the city released a preview video explaining the need for a strategy, along with broad details about possible short-and long-term strategies that could be implemented for this upcoming summer season.

The video also placed an emphasis on the importance of equity in these measures, with less wealthy and predominantly minority communities being the most affected. This included a heat map of Seattle showing the differences in ground temperatures between more wealthy neighborhoods in North Seattle compared to ones with a high percentage of lower-income residents in South Seattle, according to Dr. Jeff Duchin, a King County Health Officer who will be one of the officials presenting the plan.

“People that are vulnerable to climate-related disasters including extreme heat are the same people that are vulnerable to other health conditions in our communities,” Duchin said. “People in lower socioeconomic communities and communities of color are frequently living in areas where the heat is more intense and there is nowhere to escape from it.”

Some of the solutions that have already been implemented in advance of this summer include new overhead metro bus shelters in high heat areas and more shaded tree cover as a part of King County’s Three Million Trees Initiative.

Long term changes recommended include changing building codes for higher heat efficiency, depaving areas to reduce heat build up, and installing more water features and parks as places to cool off.

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