St. George braces for 114-plus temps. So why aren’t some sweating it? (2024)

St. George • Whenever triple-digit heat saps southwestern Utah, Steve Krehbiel likes to double down on his favorite summer pastime: getting high.

No, he doesn’t light up a joint or toss down a highball. To weather the extreme heat, the St. George resident instead seeks elevation, not inebriation.

Krehbiel typically climbs to high-altitude climes in nearby Pine Valley, Duck Creek Resort in the mountains east of Cedar City or at campsites near Bryce Canyon or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

“I enjoy getting away from people, being off by myself, hiking alpine trails, hanging out in my trailer and sipping ice cold co*ke and root beer,” said Krehbiel, who is headed to Bryce Canyon this weekend. “I’ll take Sam, my border collie, for company, and we’ll stay up high until the weather cools down enough to return home.”

Alas, Krehbiel might find a shortage of solitude and an overabundance of company in the coming week. The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning starting 9 a.m. Sunday and extending until 9 p.m. Tuesday for lower Washington County and Zion National Park.

Temperatures are expected to range between 110 and 114 degrees in southwestern Utah through Friday of next week.

Over the past two decades, St. George-area temperatures typically hover at 110 degrees or above only four days a year, according to Mike Seamon, lead meteorologist at the weather service’s Salt Lake City office.

“Starting Saturday,” he said, “we are likely to see 110 degree or higher temperatures for at least four consecutive days and probably even longer. So just in the next week or so, we are going to match or exceed what we typically see in an entire year.”

Seaman said the heat could break several records but is unlikely to eclipse the all-time high of 117 degrees tallied in St. George on July 5, 1985, and tied on July 10, 2021. The heat advisory also extends to lower-elevation areas of Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Heading out, holing up

For seasoned St. George-area locals, heat waves are nothing new. Torrid temps are something they routinely ride by heading out or staying in.

Like Krehbiel, Ivins resident Randy Spencer falls within the first category. He and his family routinely escape the heat by holing up in their cabin getaway at Duck Creek. Winchester Hills resident Scott Campbell prefers getting wet aboard his houseboat at Lake Powell.

Santa Clara resident Genae Johnson doesn’t have a boat or a trailer so she prefers a more vegetative approach, loading up at the grocery store with salads and fruits like watermelon and cucumbers.

“Cucumbers really do help you keep cool,” Johnson said. “So I stay indoors, eat healthy and curl up with a good book or afternoon soap.”

Bloomington resident Cheryl Yvega’s heat regimen calls for lots of ice and a splash of peppermint. She sprinkles 10 or 12 drops to peppermint essential oils into a big bowl of ice water. She then soaks four or five washcloths in the bowl, wrings them out and stores them in a container in the fridge.

“I grab one to put around my neck when it gets too hot during the day,” she said. “If I can’t sleep at night, I put one around my neck and between that, the air conditioner and ceiling fan, I can fall asleep pretty quick. … It’s easy, keeps you smelling fresh in the heat, and the air feels good on your neck from the peppermint essential oil.”

Kevin Dunn hunkers down in his Ivins home, taking dips in the pool or binging Netflix. Hurricane resident Hans Spencer watches nature documentaries on his big-screen TV and avoids “heated political discussions with neighbors.”

Jerolyn Beers, who lives in Washington City, turns on the sprinkler for five minutes each afternoon to cool down the patio and surrounding air.

Some like it hot

Barb and Bud Pridie like the outdoors too much to hide out indoors. They also worry about overstressing their 19-year-old air conditioner, which they run as little as possible. So for this sizzling stretch, they plan to start and end their days early — way early.

“We usually get up about 4 when it is cool and the night sky is amazing,” Barb said. “We open every door and window possible to take advantage of the light breeze, and my husband will start working in the garage. The downside is we usually go to bed at night at 6:30 or 7.”

Others who are more acclimated try to ignore these stifling stints. Sure, living in St. George in July may be like living in the epicenter of a nuclear blast, but some longtime residents swear they get a bang out of the withering heat.

“I’m a desert rat so I like the heat,” Washington City resident Bruce Lohr said. “I still go hiking and try hard not to let it affect me. I just go a little earlier.”

A civilian who did construction and maintenance work to support U.S. troops in Afghanistan about 20 years ago, Lee Zaph remembers standing outside his living quarters when his digital thermometer topped 130 degrees.

“My wife was complaining about the heat in [Utah], so I took a picture of the temperature on the thermometer in Afghanistan and sent it to her,” the St. George resident said. “She never, ever complained again.”

Yes, Colorado City construction worker Jefferson Johnson agrees, St. George summers can be brutal but he has seen worse.

“I worked in 125-degree heat in Tucson [Arizona] three years ago,” he said. “So this heat wave will suck, but it will not be as rough as it could be.”

Seasoned old-timers vs. unschooled newcomers

Approximately 1,220 people die in the United States each year from extreme heat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For his part, David Heaton, public information officer for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, doesn’t sweat so much about longtime residents who are acclimated to the desert heat.

“People who have lived here for a few years are used to the heat and know how to deal with it,” he said. “But a lot of folks who move here and are still acclimating to the place can get caught off guard about how hot it can get and how quickly they can start feeling heat-exhaustion symptoms.”

Jason Whipple, Washington County director of emergency management, said newcomers and tourists are particularly susceptible to extreme heat.

“We have people who overestimate their ability to do a hike, don’t feel they are subject to the heat or will run out of water,” he said. “So they keep [Washington County] search and rescue busy.”

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are of special concern. Heat exhaustion occurs when one’s body overheats and can’t cool. The symptoms include dizziness, confusion and nausea, all of which can be improved, according to Heaton, by drinking water and resting in the shade.

Conversely, heat stroke occurs when one’s body can no longer control its temperature, which can rise to 106 degrees or higher, Heaton said, and can result in loss of consciousness and is a medical emergency that requires immediate help.

To avoid problems, health experts advise people to wear loose, lightweight and light-colored clothing, seek shade when outdoors, drink plenty of fluid and avoid strenuous work or activities outdoors in the heat of the day. Moreover, children and pets should never be left in cars for any period of time.

“We’re also advising people to check on the elderly to make sure they are taken care of,” Whipple said, “and that their air conditioners are working.”

In the event of a power outage, Washington County has several areas where people can shelter, Whipple added, including the Dixie Convention Center, the Washington City Community Center and several schools. The county also has portable tents with generators and air conditioners that can be set up in the event of a widespread outage or other heat-related emergency.

People experiencing heat stroke or a heat-related emergency are encouraged to call 911. Others who need shelter or nonemergency help should call Washington County nonemergency dispatch at 435-634-5730.

St. George braces for 114-plus temps. So why aren’t some sweating it? (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Last Updated:

Views: 6197

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (68 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Francesca Jacobs Ret

Birthday: 1996-12-09

Address: Apt. 141 1406 Mitch Summit, New Teganshire, UT 82655-0699

Phone: +2296092334654

Job: Technology Architect

Hobby: Snowboarding, Scouting, Foreign language learning, Dowsing, Baton twirling, Sculpting, Cabaret

Introduction: My name is Francesca Jacobs Ret, I am a innocent, super, beautiful, charming, lucky, gentle, clever person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.