Volunteers to help map out America’s deadliest weather conditions this summer

Cities such as Dallas, Chicago, Little Rock, Arkansas; and Asheville, North Carolina; will join a list of 70 communities NOAA and its partners have measured for temperatures. More than 700 people die each year from heat-related deaths in the United States.

A weather phenomenon that leads to hundreds of deaths annually across the country will be thoroughly studied thanks to the help of experts and volunteers as part of NOAA’s annual urban heat island mapping campaign that will span over 18 communities this summer.

Experts say the mercury in urban areas can reach at least 20 degrees warmer than in nearby neighborhoods, which can put low-income minority communities at higher risk for heat-related problems.

Communities chosen for the 2023 survey include Chicago, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Asheville, North Carolina; and several Kansas City suburbs.

"The burden of heat is not shared equally in our urban areas," NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. "Gathering this type of environmental intelligence helps communities measure their hottest places, so they can develop strategies to reduce the dangerous effects of heat. Community by community, we’re working to create a Climate-Ready Nation that is resilient in a changing world."

Over selected days during the summer, volunteers will be given a device that easily attaches to a vehicle or a bike and will travel around their community, taking humidity and temperature readings.


Once the observational period has concluded, data will be sent to CAPA Strategies, LLC, to be examined for trends and modeling and released later in the year.

The survey aims to help communities strategize heat mitigation and determine where responses are needed.

NOAA said cities from past campaigns have used maps to develop heat action plans, added cooling stations to bus shelters and educated residents and policymakers.

The CDC reports that, on average, 702 heat-related deaths occur every year in the United States.


One of the major cities included in the 2023 heat mapping survey has a long history of record heat waves.

Chicago experienced one of the nation’s deadliest events in 1995, where more than 700 fatalities were reported due to temperatures reaching the 90s and 100s and failing to cool off during the overnight hours.

Despite the frequency of heat waves, a standard definition doesn’t exist among the world’s weather organizations.

The National Weather Service lists a heat wave as a period of abnormally hot weather that lasts more than two days. In contrast, the World Meteorological Organization defines a heat wave as five or more consecutive days with a high temperature of at least nine degrees above average.

NOAA encourages urban heat island survey participants to use #UrbanHeatMaps2023 on social media to help shed light on the research project.