Nation's heat wave hits hard in Raleigh
Posted June 30, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The heat wave pummeling the East Coast has felled another record in the Triangle.
The mercury rose to 105 degrees by 4 p.m. Saturday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, breaking the day's record high of 102 degrees.
Raleigh tied its all-time heat record of 105 degrees, for the second day in a row. That temperature has been reached three other times in the city's history – 1952, 1988 and 2007.
The capital city also tied with El Paso, Texas, for having the highest temperatures in the nation Saturday.
Fayetteville set a daily record with a high of 102 degrees. The previous daily record, set in 1959, was 101 degrees. The all-time high for Fayetteville is 107 degrees, reached in 1932 and 2007.
The heat didn't stop showtime at the 6th annual Weesefest at Big Boss Brewery in Raleigh Saturday evening. The fest, which features a Battle of the Bands, raises money for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gherig's disease.
Benton Weese, who organized the event, said the heat hadn't cooled passion for the cause.
"People's hearts are stronger than the heat," he said. "My dad has ALS, Lou Gherig's disease, and it really is a terrible, horrible thing."
The brewery did its best to beat the heat, but water kept pace with beer at the tap, Weese said. Noelle Whitlock said she followed each Big Boss beer with a bottle of water.
A "misting" system and high-powered fans were also brought in to keep the warehouse from feeling like an oven.
There was no hiding from the heat Saturday night for Raleigh Rickshaw Company drivers who pedal visitors around downtown Raleigh on bikes, no matter what the weather is like.
"There's no AC sadly," said rickshaw biker Heather Waterman. "It's not that kind of job."
Jonathan Priest said the risk of heat exhaustion Saturday was very real.
"You've got to keep drinking," he said. "Whether you're thirsty or not."
Ralph Wilhem agreed.
"We know these are inclement conditions," he said. "We try to get out and stay hydrated."
Crews had to put in extra work to pick up customers, though, as the usual crowds of outdoor diners were missing from Raleigh's downtown restaurants.
"It's so humid it feels like I'm swimming when I'm walking down the street," said Mabel Kuehr-McLaren, who took a rickshaw bike back to her air-conditioned car after dinner indoors. "I didn't want to swim while I was eating."
On Saturday morning, about 300 people ran in the Raleigh's Finest 5K, which raised money for the 200 Club of Wake County and North Carolina Fallen Firefighters Foundation in honor of two fallen Raleigh firefighters, Andrew A.J. Johnson and Harry "Flip" Kissinger.
"I wanted to support this cause, because it's really important to me," runner Jennifer Jones said. "I was going to be here, heat or not."
Runner Don Bowman said he was drinking plenty of electrolyte-laden water and didn't want to miss the opportunity to honor Kissinger, whom he knew.
"Hopefully, this will be over before the real heat sets in, but we'll be sweaty, for sure," Bowman said.
Earlier Saturday, some residents of northern and central North Carolina dealt with the fallout from blustery winds driven south from an East Coast storm system that killed 13 people Friday night.
At one point, the winds knocked out power to 12,000 people in Wake County alone. By early afternoon, that number had been whittled down to less than 4,500 Duke Energy and 700 Progress Energy customers without service, and tree debris that closed roads in Chapel Hill and Durham had been cleaned up.
Heat relief a long way away
Triple digits don't leave the forecast until next Tuesday.
"Our temperatures gradually back off into the mid 90s by mid-week. It's still going to be hot, though, as we head into the July 4th holiday," said WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss.
By Friday, the daily high is predicted to be around 90 degrees – the seasonal average.
There are varying chances of isolated or scattered afternoon and evening storms each day over the next week, but any rain that does fall is not expected to have an impact on the heat.