City of Roanoke, NOAA partner to help cool down the hottest parts of the city

Urban areas can run 10 to 15 degrees hotter than their rural counterparts in the summertime

Urban areas can run 10 to 15 degrees hotter than their rural counterparts in the summertime.

ROANOKE, Va. – Have you ever driven into Roanoke in the middle of summer and noticed a big warm-up?

The temperature change is due to a phenomenon known as the urban heat island. Urban areas can run 10 to 15 degrees hotter than their rural counterparts in the summertime.

“Heat makes people pretty crabby and has terrible health implications with respiratory problems, asthma, it tends to increase pollution,” said Nell Boyle, retired City of Roanoke Sustainability Coordinator.

The City of Roanoke partnered with NOAA in 2020 to map the hotspots and target which communities need the most help.

Volunteers took temperature readings on a hot summer day across the city and the data was compiled into a heat map.

“The reason that NOAA did this particular grant is because they can’t get the specific data of the surface temperature from their satellites,” Boyle said.

Boyle said Roanoke was picked because it’s a built-out, older city and has a high density of low-income neighborhoods.

“It is an equity issue and there are things that we will need to address in those communities,” Boyle said.

Now that the study has been completed, the city can enact a long-term plan to cool down the hottest areas.

“We can go with the lighter surfaces, we can put in green roofs, we can add extra trees. All those things are good strategies to make these communities a little more comfortable,” Boyle said.

Boyle told us that Williamson Road, Northwest and Southeast are some of the hotspots the city is targeting.

The interactive heat map is available on the city’s website.


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.