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Published: Thursday, 8/9/2001

We're having a heat wave

BY LISA MICHALS
BLADE STAFF WRITER

It's official: This is a record-breaking heat wave. And relief from the heat won't arrive until tomorrow.

The temperature reached 97 degrees at 3:57 p.m. yesterday at Toledo Express Airport, inching above the 1934 record of 95 degrees.

"You step outside and it's like a hot blanket," said Chris McGlauchlin, a native Toledoan visiting from Silver Plume, Colo., with his family to paint his mother's fading green house here.

Factor in the heat index, which combines heat and humidity readings, and it felt like 108 degrees outside yesterday, causing cars to overheat, people to hunker down wherever air conditioning was available, and city officials to convert some fire hydrants in parks into sprinklers to help citizens beat the heat.

The persistent heat has slowed Mr. McGlauchlin's painting progress - he's admittedly "not very far" along on his task since arriving in Toledo on Aug. 2.

Much of the nation from the East Coast across the is suffering from brutally high temperatures punctuated with soggy humidity.

In Wrightstown, N.J., the heat index reached 116 degrees yesterday, and the withering heat stretched across the Midwest to the West Coast, where a high of 107 was forecasted in Red Bluff, Calif., 200 miles north of San Francisco.

In Chicago, 18 firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion after responding to a truck crash that closed down two interstates.

The stifling weather over the last few days constituted a literal heat wave in Toledo. A heat wave is defined as three or more days at 90 degrees or above, according to AccuWeather, an independent weather forecasting company based in State College, Pa.

The Toledo Department of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry connected sprinklers to fire hydrants at eight area parks from 2 to 5 p.m. yesterday as a part of "Operation Cool Toledo." The hurricane of hydrant fun will run from 2 to 5 p.m. today and tomorrow, as well.

Residents rebelling against the heat opened more than 40 other hydrants illegally across the city yesterday, causing officials to worry about pipes bursting from improper opening and closing of the hydrants.

AAA Northwest Ohio received an increase in requests for automotive assistance yesterday and Tuesday, especially during peak commuting hours, said spokeswoman Kathryn Pencheff.

Today's weather will feel much like yesterday's, according to Bill Rodgers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The high is expected to be in the mid-90s.

Officials declared another ozone action day in southeast Michigan today. Residents are encouraged not to and encouraged residents not to "top off" the gas tank when refueling and to delay the use of gas-powered recreation vehicles. Toledo officials did not designate an ozone action day today.

Drinking lots of fluids and eating fruits and vegetables helps the body combat heat, said Mindy Abramson, a nutritionist for Heart Specialists of Northwest Ohio, Inc. It's important to drink fluids throughout the day, even if you are not thirsty.

"If you're thirsty, you're already mildly dehydrated," Ms. Abramson said.

The Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio has established five area senior centers as emergency cooling centers. East Toledo Family Center, Hancock Senior Center, Kahle Senior Center, Maumee Senior Center, and Zablocki Senior Center will offer extended hours again today to help seniors beat the heat.

Thunderstorms will likely pass through northwest Ohio late today before the wicked heat tapers down to low 80s on Friday and throughout the weekend.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.&tab;



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