For 15 years, Toledo went without a 100-degree reading. Now it's on the verge of its second straight summer with a triple-digit day.
The National Weather Service on Wednesday predicted a record-breaking 102-degree high at Toledo Express Airport today and 100 degrees in the central city.
An excessive-heat warning was posted for Defiance, Henry, Putnam, Paulding, Van Wert, and Allen counties, and a heat advisory was issued for the rest of the region. The weather service's North Webster, Ind., office also predicted extreme wildfire danger for counties west and southwest of Toledo.
Triple-digit highs were forecast throughout Ohio as a hot air mass that has brought 100-plus weather to much of the Great Plains states this week spreads east.
After two days of mild, pleasant weather -- highs of 76 on Monday and 81 on Tuesday at the airport -- the hotter air began its assault on the Toledo area Wednesday with a high of 89 degrees.
Forecasts called for 90-plus weather to persist in northwest Ohio at least through the weekend.
The extreme forecast prompted two Toledo agencies to postpone outdoor children's events that were scheduled today, and the Area Office on Aging announced that local senior centers would again be open as "cooling centers," as they were last week when Toledo's temperatures soared into the mid-90s for several straight days.
City pools will maintain their daily hours of noon to 6 p.m., but officials caution people could be turned away if the pools reach their capacity limits.
Sarah Brokamp, advancement coordinator for the Black Swamp Conservancy, said it was unfortunate that the "Conservation Matters" workshop with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Toledo was scheduled for today instead of earlier this week, when temperatures were milder.
"Our first concern is the welfare of the children who would be attending," she said, calling the risk of heat-related injury to be "inappropriate."
"Hopefully, it will be a nicer day on Aug. 2," the date to which the event at Pearson Metropark in Oregon has been postponed, Ms. Brokamp said.
Family Outreach Community United Services had planned to hold its annual Family Carnival between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. today, but spokesman Gretchen DeBacker said that event also has been switched to Aug. 2.
The carnival is held "on our parking lot, on blacktop. But it's going to be over 100. That's too dangerous, and just too hot," she said.
Toledo most recently hit triple digits last year on July 21, when the mercury at Toledo Express reached 102. Before that, it hadn't had a 100-plus reading since 1995.
Today's record, 101, was set in 1934. The highest temperature ever recorded in Toledo was 105, on July 14, 1936.
Gary Garnet, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Cleveland, said temperatures are expected to be the hottest today because the air will be relatively dry.
"When you have that slightly drier air, it's easier to heat up," he said. "The heat index [a combined measure of heat and humidity] will probably be worse over the weekend."
A "very weak" cool front is expected to move through the Toledo area overnight. Along with slightly cooler highs, the more humid air mass behind the front will introduce a chance of thundershowers to the local forecast each day through Sunday.
"I can't emphasize enough how weak it will be," Mr. Garnet said, "but it will knock a little bit of the edge off it [the heat] for Friday."
Because today's heat will be accompanied by a brisk wind out of the south and southwest, those who live near Lake Erie probably won't get much of a lake breeze unless they're right at the shore, the forecaster said.
That makes the Lake Erie Islands the best place to be for anyone who wants to try to beat the heat today: The forecast high for Put-in-Bay is a relatively mild 88, with low-to-mid 80s predicted Friday through Sunday.
The weather service said heat-index values in the excessive-heat warning area would range between 103 and 107 today. The agency urged people to avoid strenuous activity during the heat's peak, to drink plenty of water, and be aware of heat-stress symptoms.
The excessive-heat warning also covers most of Indiana, while heat advisories sprawl across the Midwest to as far away as southern Minnesota, eastern Nebraska, and north-central Texas.
The Red Flag warning, which means that hot, dry, and windy weather would allow any outdoor fires to develop and spread rapidly, covers a broad area stretching from central Ohio and southern Kentucky to the Indiana-Michigan border.
Courtney Obergfell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's North Webster office, said the combination of warm air, low humidity, strong wind, and recent drought conditions in the region could allow "explosive growth" of outdoor fires.
"Even throwing your cigarette out the window could cause a major issue," Ms. Obergfell said. Many Indiana counties have banned open burning, she said, and fireworks also pose a significant hazard.
Mr. Garnet in Cleveland said areas east of the warning zone, including metropolitan Toledo, were considered Wednesday afternoon to be "borderline" for a Red Flag warning, but that could change overnight if forecasters perceive conditions to have shifted so as to increase the fire hazard.
Scott Carpenter, a spokesman for the Metroparks of the Toledo Area, said it is unlikely that Toledo would fall victim to vigorous wildfires such as those burning in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and near Colorado Springs because many of the metro area's woodlands have moist soils, and oaks, the predominant tree species, are slow burners.
"We have no vast expanses of pine trees," Mr. Carpenter said, noting that the Metroparks district routinely clears fire breaks and uses controlled burns to remove excess wood that could become fuel for wildfires.
But people still should be careful to park on paved surfaces rather than dry grass to prevent fires ignited by hot catalytic converters, and smokers need to take extra care to dispose of cigarette butts properly, Mr. Carpenter said.
Contact David Patch at: email@example.com or 419-724-6094.
Guidelines to stay cool, safe in heat
The Area Office of Aging of Northwestern Ohio offers the following tips for senior citizens to prevent heat-related illness, though they apply to people of all ages:
Avoid outside activities, especially those that are physically strenuous. Outdoor activities should be scheduled for morning and evening, when temperatures are coolest.
When possible, remain in air-conditioned buildings, such as libraries, shopping malls, or cooling centers.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they contribute to dehydration and heat exhaustion. Reach for water or natural fruit juices to stay hydrated throughout the day. Seniors should note that aging decreases thirst sensation, so they should drink even when they do not feel thirsty.
Avoid heavy and hot meals. Instead, eat lighter meals including cold sandwiches, fruits, vegetables, and lots of liquids.
Headaches, sluggishness, fatigue, dizziness, upset stomach, sweating, and elevated heart rates are the first symptoms of heat exhaustion and its more serious cousin, heat stroke.
Anyone having these signs should be moved into an air-conditioned space, have wet cloths applied to the skin, and drink small sips of water. Dial 911 if the person's condition does not improve.
For more information, call 419-382-0624 or 800-472-7277.
Tips to protect pets, livestock
The Columbus-based Animals for Life Foundation reminds pet and livestock owners to protect their furry friends from the dangers of heat.
"Heat affects animals because their natural cooling systems are not as effective as humans," said David White, executive director of the non-profit organization. "Animals don't sweat the same way humans do, and heat gets trapped under their coats. As a rule of thumb, if you are uncomfortably warm on any given day, so are your pets."
The group advises to always provide a shaded area for outside pets and livestock on pasture. On particularly hot days, provide an intermittent sprinkler or fans and always maintain clean, cool drinking water.
Dr. Leah Dorman, staff veterinarian for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, warns pet owners to never leave their animals in the car, even for a few minutes.
Dogs are susceptible to heat stroke on warm days, especially in cars where the dashboard can heat up to 170 degrees in 15 minutes on an 85-degree day, she said.
Symptoms of heat stroke include heavy panting, lack of coordination, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. If a dog displays these symptoms, offer plenty of cool -- not cold -- water, and the animal should be taken to the vet if symptoms worsen.
Cats also have difficulty keeping cool during hot summer days. Cats sweat through the pads on their feet and might dip their paws in a water dish to keep cool. Cats should be offered a cool, tiled area to lie down in lieu of carpet and should be monitored for signs of heat distress.