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City of Las Cruces looking at ways to mitigate ‘urban heat’

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- Anyone who's set foot outside in the borderland over the past few weeks knows... it's been hot!

According to the National Weather Service El Paso Station, Las Cruces broke the record this month for the longest streak of triple digit days.

The city experienced 34 days of 100 or above temperatures from June 19 to July 22 at the Las Cruces International Airport. The National Weather Service says the previous record was 16 days in July 2020.

Environmentalists say cities need to be better prepared to deal with these heat events, to make livable spaces more enjoyable for residents.

Lisa LaRocque, the Sustainability Officer for the City of Las Cruces, said the city is designing new codes that will help address 'urban heat' caused by the concrete and asphalt that have become commonplace in most cities.

"Any time you have an impervious surface, a surface that doesn't let water pass through, it is a heat sink. And so what we've essentially done is we've created hot places in an urban environment. Where the darker the surfaces, the hotter it is," said LaRocque.

She said there are ways that nature helps us cool things down, including shade from trees.

"There's also a possibility of having more cool surfaces that reflect off the heat and make it much more enjoyable to be in. Those are those surfaces can only be done in asphalt. Concrete is its own surface that is more difficult to treat, but you can make those pervious, you can make water be able to seep through and that makes it less of a heat sink," said LaRocque.

She added that more landscaping would also help cool things down, as well as adding cool surfaces on the rooftops or the road.

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Leloba Seitshiro

Leloba Seitshiro reports on ABC-7 at 5 and 6 p.m. weekdays.


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