Medical community concerned about high temps at Hoopfest, Ironman

Medical community concerned about high temps at Hoopfest, Ironman

If you’ve found your way on to a basketball team or the Ironman course this weekend you’re probably used to exerting yourself, but medical professionals are concerned about spectators who may not be ready for a full day in the heat.

The record temperatures has paramedics in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene carefully watching the temperatures while meteorologist from the National Weather Service are now providing Hoopfest and Ironman daily forecasts.

“The weather forecast is always changing so in this case we’ll be doing one today and then another one on Saturday,” John Livingston with the National Weather Service said.

The good news is some subtropical moisture down around Baja could push north just in time to provide some court-side cloud cover.

“So we’ve been wrestling with this all week. The models we look at have been going kind of back and fourth on how far the clouds will advance, when they’ll be here,” Livingston said.

One thing that is certain is that this Saturday and Sunday will likely be the hottest June weekend in recorded history, and doctors are worried about more than just the air temperature.

“They have to be aware they are going to be standing on asphalt that may be 150 degrees and they are going to be standing out in the sun with no shade, they have to be taking care of themselves,” Dr. Walt Fairfax at Kootenai Health said.

Unfortunately as this ridge of high pressure builds in, we’re going to lose the breezes that help cool our bodies through sweat and evaporation, so even the most devoted Hoopfest fans and Ironman supporters are going to have to take some time-outs or they might not be around to celebrate some hard-fought victories.

“I mean you spend eight hours waiting for you loved one on the side of the Ironman course in 108 degree temperatures with your feet melting into the asphalt, you’re going to feel it,” Fairfax said.

The concern about both overheated fans and athletes is so real Ironman officials contemplating shortening the length of the course this year. That decision will be made Saturday evening after the National Weather Service offer its final forecast.

As for Hoopfest, there are no plans to scale it back in part because players and their supporters can take break from the sun and heat in between games.

The Spokane Fire Department is finalizing its plans to offer cooling stations around downtown and we’ll hear more about those efforts on Friday.

One thing is for certain: The overhead fountain in Riverfront Park is going to be one of the most popular attractions during Hoopfest, and probably not just with the kids.