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Published: Tuesday, 7/12/2011

Much of U.S. sweating in unusually high heat

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
A 2-year-old trotting filly named Eye Luv Chocolate gets a cooling shower at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. A 2-year-old trotting filly named Eye Luv Chocolate gets a cooling shower at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Just hearing the weather forecast for Oklahoma City this week could cause residents to break into a sweat: An expected high of 103 yesterday, followed by temperatures of 103, 103, 105 and, on Friday, 106.

Wichita, Kan., doesn't have it much better: 105, 104, 99, 102, and 103.

Wichita Falls, Texas? Monday was expected to be its 20th consecutive day of 100-plus degrees. Before a 98-degree day on June 21, the first day of summer, there had been 19 straight days of 100-degree heat.

The central part of the country is seeing higher than normal temperatures.

Guthrie, Okla., hit 111 degrees Sunday, a day after the thermometer reached 113 in Ashland, Kan. The coolest day in Fort Smith, Ark., this week is to be Friday, when the high is forecast at 101.

"We're definitely hotter than normal," said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita. "It's not uncommon to get above 100 for a few days in a row, but this is different."

Meteorologists said that among the reasons for the scorching temperatures was a high-pressure pattern that had stayed over much of the country's midsection, making it difficult for cooler air from the north to break through. The drought affecting a swath of the interior of the country is also to blame.

"The reason temperatures are spiking so high is we haven't had rain here for a few months," Mr. Lawson said.

Yesterday was Wichita's 19th day this year with temperatures above 100 degrees.

The city has 10 1/2 such days in an average year, and what has traditionally been its warmest time of the year is still ahead.

Heat advisories and excessive-heat warnings were issued Monday for 17 states in the Midwest and South. For today, the National Weather Service issued heat advisories for much of the East Coast, from Georgia to Connecticut, where temperatures are expected in the upper 90s but will feel as hot as 105 because of the humidity.

"It says a lot when you are dealing with such an expansive area of heat alerts," said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro.

Dallas recorded its 10th-straight day of 100-degree weather Monday. The city hit 100 for nearly three straight weeks as recently as 2006, and the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Monday afternoon for the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the first time since June 18. The advisory will remain in effect until tomorrow night.

In 1980, the Dallas-Fort Worth area endured 42 days in a row of 100-degree-and-over heat.

Triple-digit highs are expected through the weekend in Dallas, and there is little chance of rain to cool things down.

Monday, 87-year-old R.F. Lanham was taking the heat in stride as he pulled weeds in his shaded front yard in Dallas. "I've seen a lot of hot summers," he said.

As Sally Smith, 40, loaded two of her children into her minivan as she left a spin class at a Dallas YMCA, she said that even though she had lived in Texas for 18 years, the hot weather was hard to get used to.

"You feel like your skin is baking," the Michigan native said.

In Fort Worth, all of the city's pools are closed because of budget cuts. Through a partnership with the YMCA, Fort Worth residents can swim at four of its pools for two hours a day without a membership.

Authorities said a 51-year-old man suffered heat stroke and died Sunday. His mobile home in Granite City, Ill., had no working air conditioner. His body temperature was 104 when he arrived at the hospital.

In Tahlequah, Okla., David Vaughan, 56, who works construction at water treatment plants, said he was using survival skills he learned while working in Kuwait.

"In Kuwait, we had a saying: Walk slow and drink a lot of water," he said.

In El Paso, Jesus Franco, 67, was the grateful recipient of a fan from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Mr. Franco, who is blind, said that he had a small air conditioning unit installed in his home last week, but even then, "at night it gets so hot you can't sleep."

In New Orleans, the heat was, as usual, heavy and suffocating -- but just under 95 degrees, cool enough to allow the mule-drawn carriages to continue riding through the French Quarter. When the mercury hits 95, tourist guides are prohibited from working their mules.



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