Philadelphia is helping cities plan for dangerous heat with one-day car study

Nearly a dozen teams drove around different neighborhoods of Philadelphia on Saturday. They weren't in a race. They were driving for science. That's because each of their vehicles was grabbing real-time weather information.

One sensor, clipped onto the passenger side window, measured temperature and humidity. The other sensor measured air quality.

As soon as the drivers paired the devices to a GPS app, they set out on their 10-square mile section of Philadelphia to map.

These teams hit the road three times on Saturday: at sunrise, in the afternoon as we got our high temperature for the day, and close to sunset.

It was all part of a one-day study on how temperature changes throughout the day in areas of the city more prone to holding heat. 
There are neighborhoods like Hunting Park where many blocks lack trees and natural shade. Instead, it's lots of concrete and pavement, which really hold onto heat. As a result, these neighborhoods end up being the hottest areas of Philadelphia.

Scientists will compare the temperature, humidity, and air quality in those warmer sections of town to neighborhoods with lots of shade and more open spaces.

The goal is to help communities better plan for heat, and Philadelphia is one of fourteen cities participating.

NOAA, the parent of the National Weather Service, funded the study and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University coordinated with our local communities to get the study done.

Learn more about the study in our Weather Authority Extreme Weather Special.