Extreme heat is the deadliest natural disaster in the United States, killing an average of 130 people per year. The Rio Grande/Bravo (RGB) region of the southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico is already especially vulnerable to extreme heat. Daily maximum temperatures in the region can exceed 110°F (43°C), and minimum temperatures, usually measured just before sunrise, can sometimes exceed 85°F (29°C). In the future, climate scientists predict temperatures to be even hotter than today--up to 7-10°F higher by 2100 in the RGB border region.
The National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS) was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to inform climate-related decisions, through research, communication, partnership with communities, and early warning.
Mayors in Las Cruces, NM, El Paso, TX, and Ciudad Juàrez, Chihuahua, are declaring May as "Heat Awareness Month." In a region-wide effort to reduce illness and deaths related to extreme heat, each city is hosting events where they will distribute heat awareness materials, and launching a social media campaign with tips on how to stay cool during the hot summer. Look to your city's resilience and sustainability offices, and their twitter and facebook pages, for more information on events.
With hotter temperatures projected for the Rio Grande/Bravo (RGB) region, it has become imperative to develop more robust systems for dealing with the public health risks associated with extreme heat. To kick-off the RGB region NIHHIS pilot project, a workshop was held in El Paso, TX in July 2016 that brought together individuals in government, academia, and practitioners, from México and the U.S., that work in the areas of public health, emergency management, weather and climate, sustainability, and urban planning.