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City of Spokane looking at cooling center options as forecast calls for heat wave

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Emily T. Starr, via Flickr/Creative Commons
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Spokane officials are paying attention to weather forecasts for next week, and weighing their options to open cooling centers to aid people who don’t have sufficient air conditioning.

City code requires the city to provide a cool space when temperatures rise to or above 95 degrees for two consecutive days. As of midday Thursday, the official National Weather Service forecast for urban Spokane called for highs of 95 degrees Monday, 95 degrees Tuesday, and 98 degrees Wednesday.

Those forecasts are subject to adjustment over the next few days, noted Kirstin Davis, Communications Manager for Community and Economic Development. In the meantime, she said, city officials are studying available options.

“We’re finalizing those details, as we look at resources that we have within the city and the community,” Davis said. “And making sure that we have those details finalized before we release any information.”

Davis also pointed out that the city is in better shape to deal with unusual hot spells than it was last summer. Many libraries were closed for renovations, including the central library downtown. That took out of the picture public spaces that otherwise would have been available for daytime respite.

“Historically, public libraries have been locations for people to get in from difficult weather, whether it’s hot or cold,” Davis said. “We do have more locations open this year, so I’m guessing that those will be part of the mix. But until we have a better of what all that looks like, we don’t have a lot of detail around that.”

City officials will likely make a formal announcement about cooling centers and plans on Monday, Davis said.

The necessity of a permanent space to act as an emergency weather shelter helped drive early conversations about Mayor Nadine Woodward’s plan to open a shelter on Trent Avenue in the eastern part of town. It was hoped the shelter would open in August, but the city is still trying to ink an agreement with an operator and settle other details.

Brandon Hollingsworth is your All Things Considered host. He has served public radio audiences for fifteen years, primarily in reporting, hosting and interviewing. His previous ports-of-call were WUOT-FM in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Alabama Public Radio. His work has been heard nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now and NPR’s top-of-the-hour newscasts.