VIDEO: Hennepin County is relying on a growing network of special weather stations to aid emergency managers in planning for and responding to heat-related emergencies.
"We want to know in what areas are going to require the greatest amount of resources," said Eric Waage, the county's director of emergency management. "Typically they're the areas with disparities and folks lacking air conditioning who face challenges, but there are also areas with exceptionally high heat island effects."
According to Waage, a heat island is an area where conditions on the ground, including architecture and topography, may make it a hotter spot versus some others.
The special tool to pick up those readings is much more than a typical thermometer - a "wet bulb." The actual instrument is a black globe about the size of a softball and it includes a moisture wick inside to simulate how a human body might react in direct sunlight, as opposed to standard thermometers that are usually placed in the shade.