This year among the hottest, driest | PostIndependent.com

This year among the hottest, driest

John GardnerPost Independent Staff
Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox
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The recent high temperatures may have many people rethinking a cool vacation in the Colorado Rockies. But around town, people have not been overheating. Increased temperatures always mean possible health risks, fire dangers and atmospheric concerns. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two main medical problems that come with the heat. “We haven’t seen an increase in calls for either this summer,” Lt. Chris Burnholdt of the Glenwood Springs Fire Department said. “Nothing out of the ordinary … people seem to be being pretty safe.” The slight difference between the heat exhaustion and heat stroke, according to emedicinehealth.com, is heat exhaustion happens when the body is depleted of fluids, due to sweating when working or exercising in extreme heat, and starts to overheat.

With heat stroke, the body is in a more critical state where the body’s cooling system, which is controlled by the brain, no longer works. The body’s temperature may then increase to dangerous levels as high as 105 degrees, where the brain and other vital organs can be damaged. Burnholdt seemed more concerned with the fire dangers that come with lack of precipitation the area has received. “The heat is always a concern,” Burnholdt said. “Everything is drying out more and more. So, once (a fire) starts it will go quickly.” “The heat definitely doesn’t help the fire danger, it just takes a spark to start it,” said Oscar McCollum, who is with the Garfield County Community Collaborative Rain and Hail Study. “Lately it has seemed hotter, and that is normal for the middle of a heat wave like this. But you really have to look at the data,” McCollum said.

Heat: see page 2His data shows that it has been hot.McCollum has recorded nine days at 100 degrees or higher in his back yard in Glenwood Springs during July. The average July temperature for Glenwood Springs over the past 205 years is 88.6 degrees, which may seem a lot cooler than the 90s that have hit the area lately. And this last June was recorded as the seventh warmest June in 112 years.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the average temperatures for the Grand Junction area are up about 2 to 4 degrees overall.”It only takes a degree or two (on the average) to make a big difference,” McCollum said. “The drought is pretty bad this year as well. We need to look at the precipitation too.” Last June was recorded as the 13th driest month and only had a total rainfall of 0.75 inches, less than half the average rainfall recorded since 1901. And July hasn’t shaped up any better. “We have been in a warming trend the last couple of years and it’s a normal cycle that usually lasts around 20 years,” McCollum said. McCollum also made a point that if the trends in high temperatures continue on the rise, the Glenwood Springs climate would be more similar to Grand Junction. “We may be near the warmest point (within the current cycle), it’s just a guess, but we may be on the way to a cooler climate trend,” McCollum said.


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