RI launches “heat watch” team to analyze how extreme heat impacts urban areas

PROVIDENCE, RI (WLNE) – A program was launched Wednesday morning that will map out how extreme heat is impacting urban communities.

It’s called “Rhode Island Heat Watch.”

Volunteers are measuring heat and humidity in Providence, East Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls until midnight to see which areas are not cooling off enough during the night.

Rhode Island is the first state to collect heat distribution data during the night, according to RIDOH.

“This past week and a half we’ve had a pretty serious heat wave where it’s been upwards of 90 almost every day,” volunteer Vartan Hengen said. “So we can see how temperature change versus an area that has no green space than one with green space and how that is different in a place like Providence versus Boston or Baltimore or place similar but not the same.”

Rising temperatures are worse in urban areas with man-made materials that absorb sunlight and reduce green space. As a result of this, urban areas tend to have higher average temperature than surrounding towns, according to RIDOH.

“Volunteers will use specially designed thermal sensors mounted on cars to collect ambient air temperature and humidity data,” RIDOH said about the program. “Once data are collected, sensors are shipped to CAPA Heat Watch, an external partner who combines these data with satellite imagery to create high-resolution maps for use by Rhode Island communities and state agencies.”

Over 600 people in the United States die from extreme heat each year.

Officials are hoping this information being collected with the Rhode Island Heat Watch will help them come up with way to help urban areas prepare and respond to future heat waves.

Categories: News, Pawtucket, Providence, Rhode Island