Study finds Albuquerque is one of the hottest 'heat islands' in the country

Posted at: 08/24/2014 5:42 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

If you think the summer heat seemed un-bearable, especially in the city--you definitely weren't alone. A new in-depth study of dozens of US metro areas found Albuquerque is one of the hottest so-called heat-islands in the country.

Think of downtown and urban Albuquerque as a little island, which basically is surrounded by so much rural space. This study found the average temperature in the city is 6 degrees hotter than in surrounding areas.

"I expect it to be hot... It's really hot," said Greg Flores.  

Flores spends his days making coffee for customers at Espresso Fino in downtown Albuquerque.

"Inside in the middle afternoon we were hitting like 85 degrees," he said.

According to a study by National Non-profit Climate Central, Albuquerque is the second hottest heat island in the nation after Las Vegas. Albuquerque registered temperatures up to 22 degrees hotter than nearby rural areas and on average 6 degrees hotter in the city.

Flores got crafty and creative to beat the downtown heat. He built a do it yourself swamp cooler with some hardware store materials -- a fan, and a filter, and a big trash can.

"We probably gained 5 to 10 degrees cooler," he said.  

KOB meteorologist Jorge Torres says there's a big difference between our rural areas and the built-up ABQ metro.  So it's no wonder it's always hotter here.

"These big cities are getting bigger -- more cars, more concrete, more asphalt," said Torres. 

But Torres says there are little ways for folks who live in the middle of the heat island to make things a little less intense.

"Try to use very light colors." Torres said. "For example, use a tan or a white when it comes to roofs or coolers or shingles. The darker the color, the more it can absorb the heat from the sun and that traps that energy, and that's why temperatures will be much warmer not just in your house but for the rest of the city."

The climate central study took ten years of observations to put together.

If you're wondering how we beat out hot places like Phoenix, it's because we have so much rural areas closely surrounding our city and Phoenix does not.

To see how Albuquerque's heat island stacks up to the other metro areas studied: Click here