Crank up the air conditioner or prepare to head for the hills: Utah is about to experience some of its highest temperatures in several years.
Glen Merrill, a forecaster for the National Weather Service office in Salt Lake City, said temperatures in the Salt Lake Valley are expected to reach 102 by Wednesday and Thursday before a storm system provides some relief Thursday night.
The all-time Salt Lake City record of 107, recorded on July 13, 2002, likely is not in jeopardy. And the 117 temperature mark in St. George in 1985, an all-time high for the state, probably won't fall, either.
But it's going to be toasty for the next three days not unexpected since the last two weeks of July are typically the hottest of the year.
"The good news is that later Thursday and Friday, the high pressure is going to open up to a deeper monsoon moisture surge," said Merill. "We should have some widespread showers and storms Friday night and into Saturday. That will cool us off, dropping us about 10 degrees on average."
St. George could record the hottest temperatures this week. The forecast calls for 109 Tuesday, 107 Wednesday and 103 Thursday.
The past 12 months in the mainland United States have been the warmest period since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) began keeping records in 1895.
"The July 2011-June 2012 12-month period surpassed the June 2011-May 2012 period as the warmest consecutive 12-months that the contiguous U.S. has experienced," NOAA reported as part of its June climate overview.
Scorching heat during the last half of June broke or tied 173 high temperature records in cities across the lower 48 states. June also was the 10th driest month on record for the nation, NOAA reported.
Rocky Mountain Power officials are gearing up for an expected increase in power demand as residents try to beat the heat by running their central air conditioners.
"As temperatures get higher, electricity use begins to go up as well," said Jeff Hymas of Rocky Mountain Power. "Each year, we prepare in advance for the summer heat and accompanying higher energy use to make sure our electric systems are ready to handle that increased use."
Near the end of last summer, the power company assessed system needs and made improvements that were finished in May. Power systems handled the June heat well, he said.
As far as water use thus far this summer, Salt Lake City water conservation program Director Stephanie Duer said daily use is similar to the hot summer of 2003.
"Our water situation is good because of earlier public utility planning," she said. "We had good storage and strong supplies in our reservoirs. We don't know if this is one hot summer or the beginning of a drought cycle. We are living on borrowed water, water from storage, and we don't know when we will get new water."
She urged residents to check outdoor sprinkler systems. For information on getting a rebate or free sprinkler check, visit slowtheflow.org.
Ice making companies are also anticipating brisk sales this week.
"The hotter it gets, the more ice we sell," said Karen Child of Salt Lake-based Reddy Ice. "We are always watching the weather and making as much ice as we can. When it gets hotter, they shoot for more."
Summer energy saving tips
Set your air conditioner thermostat as high as comfortable. The recommendation is 78 degrees when you are home, 85 degrees when you are gone.
Keep inside air vents clear of furniture and other objects.
Have your central air conditioner tuned up and clean or replace filter monthly.
Minimize indoor heat by running the dryer and dishwasher at night on hot days and letting dishes air dry. Avoid incandescent lighting and use a microwave, toaster oven or outdoor grill instead of the oven. Avoid use of major appliances between 2 and 8 p.m.
Set water heater to 120 degrees.
Keep blinds and windows closed during the day and open at night.
Use window, ceiling and whole-house fans.
Wash clothes in cold water and clean the dryer lint filter after every use.
Eliminate or deactivate extra freezer or refrigerators if you can, especially if are outdoors or in a garage.
Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use. Plug home electronics such as TVs, DVD players and computers into power strips and turn them off when equipment is not in use.
Source • Rocky Mountain Power
Beating the heat
Spend the hottest part of the day in an air conditioned movie theater.
Drive to Mirror Lake, where the temperature likely will be 25 degrees cooler.
Lather on the sunscreen and head to the nearest swimming pool.
Stage a water fight in the back yard using hoses, squirt guns and water balloons.
Hibernate in the basement, normally the coolest place in the house.
Go water skiing at East Canyon, Bear Lake, Willard Bay, Jordanelle, Yuba, Pineview or Deer Creek.
Take a vacation to Yellowstone or San Francisco, where temperatures have been in the 60s.
Join the kids playing in the Olympic fountain at The Gateway.
Spend the night at a luxury hotel in Park City.
Walk before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m.