Chattanooga: Feeling the heat

photo Madison Hawkins, 8, cools off Monday lying in water on the steps of The Passage. Her family visits The Passage or Coolidge Park at least twice a week during the summer to cool down and relax.

The top of the Regions Bank sign read 100 degrees Monday afternoon as Mike MacDonald packed his cooking condiments after a day's work.

"Hot. Hot. Hot," said the 58-year-old hot dog stand operator.

After five hours on the corner of Sixth and Market streets, sweating under a red shade umbrella, MacDonald made an $8 profit selling $23 worth of hot dogs and fixings.

He was one of hundreds of Chattanoogans who endured Monday's sweltering temperature, which hit the upper 90s. He said he'll be back today when the temperature is expected to hit the upper 90s again, according to the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

Monday's high reached 97 degrees, falling short of the 100-degree record set on the same day in 1980, according to Sam Roberts of the Morristown weather service.

It got so hot Monday, steam rose from the concrete when rain showers fell in the afternoon.

The difference between this week's temperatures and the upper-90 temperatures the first week of June is the humidity, said WRCB-Channel 3 Chief Meteorologist Paul Barys. Factoring in the humidity, Monday's heat index hit 106 degrees, Barys said, and it'll top 100 again today.

The next couple of days are going to be rough, he said. In such extreme heat, people should check on the elderly and those who may need help caring for themselves, he said.

A cool-down could come Wednesday when the chance for rain reaches 30 to 40 percent, but the high is expected to drop only to the low 90s, Barys said.

Chattanooga Parks and Recreation officials said they expect to have the play fountain at Coolidge Park operating again this week. The fountain stopped working over the weekend after a water pump broke, said Parks and Recreation Administrator Larry Zehnder.

Several social service agencies are requesting donations to protect the poor and elderly from heat-related illnesses.

Insect repellent, bottled water and sunscreen may be dropped off at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen at 727 E. 11th St. The donations will be used to help people who are homeless and remain outdoors in the heat for extended hours, said Kitchen officials.

Fans or financial donations may be given to the Salvation Army at 821 McCallie Ave. About 250 fans have been collected so far, said the Salvation Army's Sharica Smallwood, but more than 700 families have signed up for fans, with several displaced by the April 27 tornadoes.