Children cool off in a fire hydrant at Walnut Street and Michigan Street. City officials urged residents not to open the hydrants.
Toledo residents desperately sought relief from record-breaking temperatures Thursday, and that desperation was palpable at Willys Park pool in the city's west end.
Within two hours of opening, the pool had reached its 120-person capacity. More than 50 hot and agitated people waited in line -- some for up to two hours -- as staff tried to control the crowd with shouts and megaphones. Several youths clambered over the fence and made a beeline for the pool.
"Go home" Toledo Police Officer Burna Guy shouted at the crowd. "It's too hot!"
By 2:45 p.m., staff sent away the 50-plus people waiting in line. Outside the pool gate, a frustrated Momika Smith of North Toledo waited with her two children, her water bottle empty. "We've been here two hours," she said. "If they weren't going to let people in, they should have just told people."
Venus Strozier of North Toledo was one of the lucky ones. She packed five kids into her Saturn and got to the pool early. The heat drove her to jump off a diving board for the first time in her 44 years.
The official high temperature reached 102, but at Toledo Executive Airport it was recorded at 105.
"I'm always scared of how it wobbles," she said. "But today it's hot."
The temperature reached 102 degrees at Toledo Express Airport Thursday afternoon, surpassing 100 for the first time since 1995 and breaking the 99-degree Toledo record for July 21.
The temperature was 105 at Toledo Executive Airport, the former Metcalf Field, which matches the all-time Toledo record high set downtown in 1936. But that 105 degrees won't go into the local record book because Toledo Express is the official reporting location for Toledo. Records in Detroit and Cleveland also were shattered Thursday.
The searing temperatures continued a week of oppressive heat, the result of a huge ridge of high pressure that is sending warm, moist air from the south, said Kristen Schuler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland. The heat index, which takes into account the effect of humidity, reached 109.
The weather service issued an excessive heat warning until 9 p.m. Thursday and a heat advisory through 9 p.m. Friday. Just slightly cooler weather is forecast through the weekend, with highs in the low- to mid-90s and a heat index of 100 to 104.
A blackout that affected 6,000 Toledo Edison customers further complicated the efforts of many Toledoans to keep cool. The power outage stemmed from a substation problem Thursday and power was restored about 5:15 p.m, utility spokesman Debbie Paul said.
The cause of the problem, which involved a tripped circuit breaker at the Hawley Street substation, is still under investigation, she said.
One of the customers without power was the Lucas County Dog Pound, Lucas County Dog Warden Julie Lyle said. No dogs died or collapsed in the heat, Ms. Lyle said.
The facility activated all three of its power generators for its electric fans, which are near the cages that hold the dogs, she said.
As a result of the heat wave, some Toledo residents took whatever measures were necessary to stay cool.
One of three fans keeps the dogs cool at the Lucas County Dog Pound, but a power outage forced the facility to use a generator to power them. Dog Warden Julie Lyle said no dogs died or collapsed.
Just north of downtown, at the intersection of Walnut Street and Michigan Avenue, more than 50 children played in an open fire hydrant, doing handstands and taking turns directing the water with the help of a 2-by-4 board. Some of the younger children laid in the road and let the powerful spray roll them across the pavement while dozens of adults sat nearby in lawn chairs, sipping soda and beer or grilling burgers. The owner of the carry-out store across the street handed out freeze pops to the children.
"This is our beach," said Valerie Randolph, who watched her three grandchildren at the Greenbelt Place Apartments. The apartment complex doesn't provide air conditioning, she said, and no public pool is within walking distance. Willys Park is the closest, but even if they could have hitched a ride there, they may have been turned away.
"This is what we do to stay cool," she said.
They're not the only ones. "We've had about 20 hydrants today that we've shut off," David E. Welch, Toledo's director of utilities, said. He stressed that residents should not open fire hydrants because it can cause water lines to break. In fact, the hot weather has contributed to a higher-than-usual number of water main breaks, including at least eight Wednesday, he said.
Open hydrants can reduce water pressure and endanger children playing in the street. He encouraged citizens to call the city's emergency water phone number if they spot an open hydrant.
In an effort to provide another form of relief, the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc., expanded cooling center hours. The center is open for all ages but especially invites elderly people who are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses. The organization also said the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority's TARPS service and Black & White Cab will provide free transportation to and from the cooling centers.
Toledo Police Officer Burna Guy tries to keep tempers cool at Willys Park when she told about 50 people the pool was at capacity.
Robert Samberg, 57, took refuge at the cooling center in the Eleanor Kahle Senior Center in Toledo's west end Thursday afternoon. "I have two fans at home," he said, "but it was just unbearable."
While many people managed to find a way to cool off, others simply had to tough it out.
"It is roasting out here. It's terrible," said Mel Smith-Agin, a flagman at the Salisbury-Dussel interchange expansion project. She wore a wide-brimmed hard hat and brought wet towels and bandanas, watermelon, and a variety of drinks in an ice-filled cooler.
"I have another giant cooler in case the guys need something," the Sylvania resident said during a break between guiding blacktop-filled dump trucks. "I've got juices, iced tea, and of course, water."
But Ms. Smith-Agin said the paving crews generally don't notice the difference between a 90-degree day and 100, because the blacktop they work with is so much hotter.
"It's really not that hot out here," said Amy Crawford, a roller operator from Monclova who estimated the fresh pavement's temperature at 270 degrees. "As long as there's a breeze, we're good."
That may have been Thursday's only saving grace. As temperatures rose throughout the day, so too did wind strength, from 7 mph in the morning to more than 20 mph by late afternoon.
Not everyone suffered, though. At Tam-o-Shanter in Sylvania, where the ice rink has a surface temperature of 16 degrees, facility manager Kyle Schaetzke had no complaints after resurfacing the ice on a Zamboni. "It's not so much of a chore today," he said.
The new cooling center hours are:
East Toledo Senior Center, 1001 White St., Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friendship Park Senior Center, 2930 131st St., Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
J. Frank Troy Senior Center, 1235 Division St., 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Margaret Hunt Senior Center, 2121 Garden Lake Pkwy., Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Eleanor Kahle Senior Center, 1315 Hillcrest Drive, Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Senior Center Inc., 2308 Jefferson Ave., Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mayores Senior Center, 1 Aurora Gonzalez Drive, Friday, 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Ave., Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Zablocki Senior Center, 3015 Lagrange St., Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Sylvania Senior Center, 7140 West Sylvania Ave., Sylvania, Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Community Development Center, 330 Oak Terrace Blvd., Holland, Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Maumee Senior Center, 2430 South Detroit Ave., Friday, 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.
Hancock Senior Center, 5760 Bayshore Rd., Oregon, Friday 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
In Bowling Green, the Wood County Senior Center, 305 North Main St., will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
Staff writers David Patch and Sara Felsenstein contributed to this report.
Contact Tony Cook at: email@example.com or 419-724-6065.
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