published Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Chattanoogans try to chill out amid heat wave

Riley Willis looks up at her father, J.K. Willis, Saturday as she eats her snow cone in Coolidge Park. Saturday's high temperatures made things like snow cones a popular choice for people in the Chattanooga area. 
Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Riley Willis looks up at her father, J.K. Willis, Saturday as she eats her snow cone in Coolidge Park. Saturday's high temperatures made things like snow cones a popular choice for people in the Chattanooga area. Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press

HEAT DANGERS

Unseasonal heat can lead to serious health problems such as heatstroke or heat exhaustion. To avoid a trip to the hospital, make sure to:

• Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to sunburn.

• Stay hydrated, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.

• Don’t leave kids in cars. Even with temperatures in the low 70s, a car’s inside temperature can shoot up 19 degrees in 10 minutes.

• Check on the elderly. Those with weak immune systems are particularly susceptible to heat-related health problems.

Source: Georgia Department of Community Health


Date/Temp/Avg/Record

* = record setting / tying

May 29 - 93 / 82 / 99 - 1941 all-time record high for the month

May 30 -94 / 83 / 95 - 1937

* May 31 - 96 / 83 / 95 - 1951

* June 1 - 97 / 83 / 96 - 1951

* June 2 - 97 / 83 / tied - 1998

* June 3 - 96 / 84 / tied - 2002

June 4 - 96 / 84 / 97 - 2002

Source: National Weather Service

Chris Randolph was dressed in a black tux from head to toe as the sun pounded him and his new wife, Beverly, with near-record-breaking heat.

“We love each other. That’s what’s getting us through,” she said. “And we want good pictures.”

The Randolphs were married Saturday afternoon and were having pictures made at Coolidge Park. They said their wedding guests didn’t mind the heat — at least, they weren’t complaining to the newlyweds about it — and the bride and groom didn’t mind, either.

“This is our special day,” Beverly Randolph said. “You just do it once in your life.”

Temperatures broke or tied record highs four times last week, and came in one degree below the record Saturday. Little relief is in sight, and thermometers are expected to reach the 90s through all of next week.

That means a tough week for Darryl Wheeler, who sits in the sun from 11:30 in the morning till sometimes as late as midnight selling shaved ice on Frazier Avenue.

“It’s like a magnifying glass is right on you,” he said. “It’s hot, but you’ve got to stay cool. It’s challenging.”

Wheeler drinks lots of water, but said that’s about all he can do to beat the heat.

But high temperatures aren’t all bad. This week he’s been selling a lot more refreshing treats than normal.

Air conditioners have also been selling like hot cakes.

“We have as many as we can possibly have [in stock],” said Tony Belk, merchandising manager at the Gunbarrel Road Home Depot. “It’s always the same every year. You sell everything that you have.”

Though sales have been strong, Belk said this heat wave isn’t causing an unusually large increase. After Memorial Day, sales always shoot up.

“Memorial Day brings the heat,” he said. “You can count on it every year.”

Aside from buying an air conditioner or making sure doors and windows are as energy efficient as possible, Belk said attic ventilation is key to keeping a cool home.

“If you keep the top of the house cool, the rest of the house will be cooler,” he said.

That idea seems to hold true for Chattanooga as a whole. A hot, high-pressure system from the southwest sat over the city all week, trapping the heat. A low pressure system is expected to make its way through the area by the end of this week, offering a bit of relief.

But the unusual heat isn’t that strange when looking at the big picture.

Normal temperatures are taken from 30-year averages. Most actual temperatures come in a bit above or a bit below the normals, said meteorologist Derek Eisentrout at the National Weather Service office in Morristown, Tenn.

“Very seldom do I actually see the average temperature for the day be the average normal. It just doesn’t happen.” he said. “That’s just kind of the way the weather goes.”

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