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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2007

Steamy weather sticking around Toledo area

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Marc Green of Toledo, left, and Matthew Wunder of Perrysburg used their programs for shade at yesterday s Mud Hens game.
Marc Green of Toledo, left, and Matthew Wunder of Perrysburg used their programs for shade at yesterday s Mud Hens game.
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If recent dry weather hasn t been enough to keep your lawn from growing, now you ve got an excuse not to cut the grass at least for today.

Authorities for both metropolitan Toledo and the Detroit area have declared Ozone Action alerts for today because of forecasts for hot, sunny weather with light winds. Such conditions are favorable for ozone formation in the surface layer of the atmosphere, where ozone is a pollutant that can cause or aggravate breathing disorders and other health problems.

Using equipment with small, gasoline-powered engines such as lawn mowers is among activities that authorities discourage under those circumstances, because they worsen the pollution.

Forecasters said yesterday afternoon that Toledo-area temperatures should be near or above 90 through Saturday, and Accu-Weather, Inc., predicted highs of 96 today and tomorrow, which would approach the 98-degree records for each date.

While temperatures will be above normal, however, such heat is not unusual for midsummer in Toledo. Yesterday s high of 91 degrees was six degrees shy of the record for the date, and rec ords for the rest of the week are in the upper 90s or higher including 102 and 103 for Aug. 5 and 6, respectively, set during a 1918 heat wave.

Ken Reeves, a forecaster with State College, Pa.-based Accu-Weather, said the contrast with cooler-than-average July is what will make this week feel hot in Toledo. When you look back at July, there really were only a handful of days when the temperature went 90 degrees or higher, and one of them was [yesterday], he said.

Last week, the mercury was kept in check by a slowly drifting low-pressure center that provided a moderate amount of cloud cover and spawned thunderstorms whenever temperatures started to rise. But that weak storm system is long gone, and in its wake the summertime heat that has blanketed the western U.S. for most of the summer will sprawl eastward, Mr. Reeves said.

The most likely days for rain, forecasters said, are Thursday night into Friday, then on Sunday.

Nighttime lows are expected to be warm for the next few days, which means difficult sleeping weather for those without air conditioning, and the air will be humid at least until Friday. Heat indexes, which consider the added effect of humidity on top of heat, are expected to be near or above 100 degrees in the Toledo area today and tomorrow.

If the hot daytime forecasts persist, that means free admissions at Toledo city pools for the rest of the week. When the temperature is predicted to be 90 or higher on a given day, a city statement issued yesterday said, admission will be free at the five pools Willys at 1375 Hillcrest Ave.; Roosevelt, 910 Dorr St.; Pickford, 3000 Medford Dr.; Navarre, 1001 White St., and Wilson, 3253 Otto St.

Pool hours are noon until 6 p.m.

Indicative of the relatively rare occurrences of 90-plus heat this summer is that today will be only the second Ozone Action Day of the season for both the Toledo and Detroit metro areas.

During Ozone Action Day pollution alerts, officials ask that people who live or work in those areas minimize driving and idling, wait until after 7 p.m. to refuel vehicles, and avoid using oil-based paints or grilling with charcoal lighter fluid.

Those activities are discouraged because combustion or use of petroleum products releases vapors or exhaust containing hydrocarbon compounds that react with oxygen in the air to form ozone. Heat and sunlight accelerate that ozone-causing reaction.

Fares are waived on Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority buses on Ozone Action Days.

A key to the Ozone Action declaration is light winds, said David Gedeon, a transportation project manager with the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, which along with the city Department of Environmental Services conducts the air-pollution awareness program in Toledo.

You can have hot, sunny weather, but if it s windy too that disperses the ozone problem, he said.

So while hot weather is forecast to persist until the weekend, the decision to declare Ozone Action Days won t be made until 2 p.m. each previous afternoon, Mr. Gedeon said.

The Toledo alert covers Lucas and Wood counties, while north of the Ohio-Michigan border, the Ozone Action program is coordinated by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and applies to Monroe, Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, Livingston, and St. Clair counties.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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