As Rising Heat Bakes U.S. Cities, The Poor Often Feel It Most

Meg Anderson and Sean McMinn, for NPR:

When Shakira Franklin drives from West Baltimore to her job near the city’s Inner Harbor, she can feel the summer heat ease up like a fist loosening its grip.

“I can actually feel me riding out of the heat. When I get to a certain place when I’m on my way, I’ll turn off my air and I’ll roll my windows down,” says Franklin. “It just seems like the sun is beaming down on this neighborhood.”

Franklin isn’t imagining that. Her neighborhood, Franklin Square, is hotter than about two-thirds of the other neighborhoods in Baltimore — about 6 degrees hotter than the city’s coolest neighborhood. It’s also in one of the city’s poorest communities, with more than one-third of residents living in poverty.

Most people know about the urban heat island phenomenon where cities are hotter than surrounding areas because there’s less green spaces and heat gets trapped by asphalt pavement and tall buildings, but it was surprising to me that there’s such a strong correlation between heat and income level in so many American cities.

Also interesting is the data NPR posted on GitHub if you’d like to explore the topic more.