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Published: Monday, 7/17/2006

Triple-digit heat index in Toledo fills pools, but Irish fest rolls on

BY ERIC LUND
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Katie Wagner of Perrysburg catches her son Nathan, 3, as he jumps in the pool at Perry Lake Village apartments. Willys Pool in West Toledo had to turn swimmers away by midafternoon. Katie Wagner of Perrysburg catches her son Nathan, 3, as he jumps in the pool at Perry Lake Village apartments. Willys Pool in West Toledo had to turn swimmers away by midafternoon.
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Aaron King refused to let yesterday's hot weather - the heat index was in the triple digits and a heat advisory was in effect - keep him indoors.

"I knew it was going to be hot, but you can't just sit inside," said the Maumee resident, who spent yesterday afternoon out in the sun downtown at the Toledo Irish Festival.

Even worse conditions are expected today.

Karen Oudeman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said she doesn't expect today's temperature to set any records, but it will be warmer than yesterday, with the forecast at 96 degrees. AccuWeather forecasts today's temperatures to reach 97 degrees.

Like yesterday, there's a heat advisory in effect today, and the heat index - which reflects how warm it actually feels - is fore-cast for 100 to 105 degrees. Because of that high temperature and other factors, today is also an Ozone Action! Day in Lucas and Wood counties, meaning ozone emissions could rise to an unhealthy level that's dangerous to children, the elderly, and people with respiratory conditions.

The hot weather is expected to subside later this week, with temperatures forecast in the mid to upper 80s.

The heat index was about 100 degrees yesterday with the actual high recorded at 91 degrees at the Toledo Express Airport by the National Weather Service in Cleveland. That's seven degrees higher than average. Yesterday's record temperature was set in 1988 at 99 degrees.

To beat the heat, throngs of swimsuit-clad youngsters made yesterday one of the busiest days this summer at Willys Pool in West Toledo.

"The whole pool was full. We couldn't even move," said 9-year-old Sajuan Pittman, who spent the entire afternoon there with her aunt and cousin.

Willys Pool was so popular, in fact, that by 3:30 p.m. attendants began turning new bathers away at the gate, and put out a sign announcing they had reached capacity.

"Once we had 250 kids, that's when we put it up," said lifeguard Brad Schoonmaker, 21, adding that it was about the third time this summer that the pool was full.

The crowds at the weekend's Irish festival weren't thinned out too much by the heat, said Carol Devine, who worked the ticket booth yesterday afternoon. Still, some people stayed indoors.

"My brother and sister said they'd come down, but it was just too hot for them," she said.

Becky Swander, of Green Springs, agreed. She'd been at the festival since early afternoon, and by 4:30 p.m. was sitting under a tree with a paper fan.

"We brought some bottled water with us, but that ran out an hour ago," she said, adding that she wouldn't let the conditions interfere with her enjoyment of the live music.

"We're here for the duration," Mrs. Swander said.

Keith Hancock, FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman, said despite the heat, yesterday probably didn't set any records for energy usage, either.

"If we're going to have a record high usage, it would probably be during the week" when manufacturers are open, he said.

Emily Owens, emergency coordinator for the Area Office on Aging, said four senior centers will remain open into the evening today to provide air conditioning for the area's elderly. The Eleanor Kahle and Sylvania senior centers will keep their doors open until 6:30 p.m., while the Zablocki and East Toledo Family Center will remain open until 8 p.m.

"What we really worry about with this heat wave, it's kind of a silent killer," she said, adding that people could be in danger from heat stroke or exhaustion and not know it.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy perspiration, dizziness, weakness, and clammy skin. Heat stroke, which is more serious and is a medical emergency, can involve the previous symptoms plus seizures; loss of consciousness; hot, dry skin; and a rapid pulse.

In addition to the additional hours at the senior centers, all of the Toledo city pools will be open today with normal hours, which are noon to 6 p.m. daily.

Blade Staff Writers JC Reindl and Jane Schmucker contributed to this report.

Contact Eric Lund at: elund@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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