- Associated Press - Sunday, March 20, 2016

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) - Officials are hoping a kiosk that provides real-time temperature readings and weather forecast details for the floor and rim of Palo Duro Canyon will decrease the number of people experiencing heat-related issues at one of Texas’ most popular and largest state parks.

The kiosk that began operating earlier this month at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park information center is the product of about two years of work involving park officials and the National Weather Service.

More than 100 heat-related incidents, including two deaths, were recorded at the 28,000-acre park in the Texas Panhandle between 2011 and 2014.

The kiosk displays heat threat information and forecasts from the National Weather Service office in Amarillo, about 20 miles north of the canyon.

Park Superintendent Shannon Blalock told the Amarillo Globe-News (https://bit.ly/1Uuk1fX ) that dealing with the “microenvironment” of the 120-mile-long, 800-feet-deep canyon - the nation’s second largest - can prove worrisome. The temperature difference between the canyon floor and the rim can be as much as 30 degrees.

“People can get in trouble so quickly,” Blalock said. “Some of our situations have involved children and pets. It’s sad to see a situation for someone end that way, a day end that way for a park visitor.”

More than 350,000 people visited the park last year.

Blalock said the park already has informational pamphlets, signs and trailhead thermometers to make visitors aware of the heat threat in the canyon and hopes the kiosk will bolster those.

“The thought is maybe something that people have to put their hands on, that’s more interactive,” she said. “Maybe it will strike more of a chord with folks.”

Jose Garcia, the meteorologist in charge at the weather service in Amarillo, said he looks forward to a time when people who are planning a canyon trip and those already at the park can get the kiosk data on their mobile devices. He also hopes the weather service can use the information to issue specific advisories in the future.

“We might issue a heat advisory or a heat warning just for the canyon when we start to see those types of temperatures,” Garcia said. “That’s something that’s in development, and we hope to have for the future.”


Information from: Amarillo Globe-News, https://www.amarillo.com

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide