Palo Duro Canyon (KFDA) - The National Weather Service in Amarillo has created a specialized forecast zone intended to protect those who explore Palo Duro Canyon.
The National Weather Service said they created the specific forecast zone to heighten awareness for the difference in temperatures that occur in the canyon compared to Randall County.
"It allows us to separate out the temperatures for the rest of the county and the temperatures for the canyon," said Michael Gittinger, acting meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Amarillo. "So if you were to go to the forecast you'd get a more representative forecast as to what's happening in the canyon without having the average or the rest of the county influencing and pulling that down."
The new zone allows the National Weather Service to issue a targeted heat advisory.
"We don't have to light up the whole county with a heat advisory, we can issue a heat advisory just for the canyon area," said Gittinger. "That's quite often what happens because the temperatures there can be four to eight degrees warmer."
"The temperature here tends to be 10 degrees hotter than the floor of the canyon in the summer so plan accordingly," said Jeff Davis, park interpreter at Palo Duro Canyon. "Remember that that temperature is the shade temperature in the sun is going to be even hotter and the trail temperature can reach over 150 degrees and that's the kind of temperatures that can put people in danger."
As Palo Duro gets ready for its busiest season during the hottest months, the weather service and the park want to remind people the biggest concern is heat and dehydration.
"We're not trying to scare people from going to the canyon, it's just they need to be aware and have plenty of water and work their schedule around the weather," said Gittinger.
"Anything we can do to try and help them understand the danger that's here and the ways to keep themselves safe is really important so having the National Weather Service support us that way is very important," said Davis.
The new zone is set to go into effect May 1st, just in time for the summer heat.