Heat mitigation strategy unveiled as Seattle temperatures rise

Jun 27, 2022, 3:23 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2022, 6:20 am
Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo...
Photo by Elena Di Vincenzo

One year removed from the three-day heat wave that caused the deaths of 38 people in King County, public officials, scientists, and community members have put together an “Extreme Heat Mitigation Strategy” to prepare for the rising temperatures set to start this weekend.

Last year’s heat wave had record-breaking temperatures, with the highest reaching 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and led to the county applying for a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to put together a heat mapping project of Seattle and surrounding towns.

“Our team of experts representing public health, climate preparedness, and emergency management will partner with communities to develop a comprehensive strategy to strengthen our response and adapt our built environment to keep people safer while working to dramatically cut carbon emissions countywide,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said.

Monday, June 27, some of the initiatives were outlined in the strategy.

  • King County Metro Transit is using the data from the heat mapping project to inform bus stop design and amenities to account for more extreme weather events, particularly at stops serving communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. The 3 Million Trees initiative that Executive Constantine kicked off on Earth Day will work with communities where there is the greatest need for urban tree canopy, aligning with King County’s 30-Year Forest Plan.
  • King County’s Land Conservation Initiative is already prioritizing the permanent protection of urban green space, which provides relief during extreme heat events and prevents an increase in hard landscapes that retain heat.
  • King County Parks will use the data to inform park design and improvements to account for hotter temperatures during peak summer months.
  • The 2020 Strategic Climate Action Plan includes strategies to make ownership of energy-efficient green homes – which cost less to heat and cool – more equitable.
  • King County is updating land-use and urban planning policies to prioritize green space and other cooling strategies, including providing more equitable access to energy-efficient green homes that are designed to stay cooler during increasingly hot summers.

The plan identifies actions needed to improve the area’s response to extreme heat so that people and property are better prepared for more long, hazardous heat waves predicted by climate scientists, the county said in a news release.

“Extreme heat is one of King County’s severe weather hazards. We anticipate this happening more often and we encourage everyone to develop an emergency plan to help prepare for and be resilient to this hazard – what are you going to do, where are you going to go, and what supplies do you need before the extreme heat occurs?” said Brendan McCluskey, Director of the King County Office of Emergency Management.

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Heat mitigation strategy unveiled as Seattle temperatures rise