Try to beat or just tolerate the heat

Published: Monday, July 9 2012 6:58 p.m. MDT

Kim Pack plays with her daughter Skyler Sullivan in the outdoor water area of the South Davis Recreation Center in Bountiful Monday, July 9, 2012.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Get used to the triple digits.

Wasatch Front residents can expect to experience temperatures of 100 degrees or higher for the next three days or so. Tuesday's expected high is 102, which will make it the hottest day of the year — so far.

Salt Lake City may hit 103 degrees on Wednesday, said KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank, and will stay in that range through Thursday, dropping to 96 degrees on Friday.

On average, Salt Lake has six 100-degree or higher days each year. As of Monday, the capitol city had already hit that mark six times, Eubank said. That number will certainly rise this week, but it's still too early to tell if the city will match 1994, when Salt Lake City had a record 21 days at or above the century mark.

The concern over the heat has had Utahns looking for alternatives to stay cool, but the air quality may cause many to stay home.

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality issued a Red Air Quality Alert for Monday in Salt Lake and Davis counties, the poorest air quality rating for those with sensitive illnesses, such as asthma. Children and the elderly were encouraged to stay indoors because the poor air quality could cause them to experience an increase in allergies and irritation. 

Deidra Duffin, of Salt Lake City, suffers from asthma. She was with her husband and nephew at a crowded Seven Peaks water park Monday, trying to beat the heat.

"I feel like it's more difficult to breathe outside, for sure," Duffin said. "I think when you have a poor air quality day, your eyes burn more, you sneeze more, you try to stay inside."

Duffin's 9-year old nephew, Eli Duffin, enjoys the heat and had a positive outlook for the rest of the week. "Just deal with it," he advised.

Clint Severson, the owner of Hokulia Shave Ice Co. in Provo, is dealing with the heat and benefiting from it, too. Severson is expecting a 50 percent to 70 percent increase in revenue this week because of the hot temperatures.

"The hotter the better for us," Severson said. "(The success of) shave ice is based on the temperature."

People will be buying more electricity from Rocky Mountain Power to power those air conditioners, but the power company also worries about the extra demand.

"Every year we prepare in advance for the summer heat and the higher electricity use," said spokesman Jeff Hymas. 

The company has completed improvement projects for the summer, but warned that wasteful usage at night could lead to a strain of the system because the system is not allowed to cool down.

Improvement projects completed earlier include a new substation and substation upgrades, new underground power lines, a rebuilt transmission line and new voltage regulator equipment, according to Hymas.

Hymas said residents can help themselves financially by visiting Wattsmart.com and following simple tips, such as setting the thermostats to 78 degrees and replacing the air conditioning filters.

The addition of new businesses, like City Creek Center, has also contributed to the rise of power usage in Salt Lake City. The combined usage for city residents and businesses for June 2012 was 2,073,589 MWh, an increase from 1,894,686 MWh from June 2011, according to numbers provided by Rocky Mountain Power. 

However, City Creek and other businesses that have partnered with Rocky Mountain Power have been able to reduce 20 percent of their energy consumption and save more than $1 million through energy-efficient incentives.

Such incentives at City Creek include energy-saving fluorescent lighting and state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems for the approximately 1 million square feet of residential and retail space.

St. George residents can expect temperatures of 110 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday, with 107 degrees forecast for Thursday.

E-mail: jreyes@desnews.com Twitter: @_JulianReyes_

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