Heat hits 100 degrees, sets record
Posted July 12, 2011 5:30 a.m. EDT
Updated July 12, 2011 8:18 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The mercury climbed to 100 degrees at Raleigh-Durham International Airport Tuesday afternoon, beating the 1986 record of 99 degrees to set a record for the date.
Triple digit temperatures were short-lived, hitting 100 around 4 p.m. in downtown Raleigh and 6 p.m. in Fayetteville before dipping back down to 99 degrees, but high humidity made Tuesday afternoon’s heat feel much more “ferocious,” said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.
Heat indexes in central North Carolina ranged from 105 to 112 degrees, prompting a heat advisory from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lingering clouds from overnight thunderstorms to the northwest helped keep temperatures hovering around 92 degrees in Raleigh Tuesday morning, but they quickly rose once the sky cleared up in the afternoon hours, Fishel said.
"Had we had a full day of sunshine today, we could potentially have been looking at all-time record heat around here, which is 105," he said.
Triple digit highs were expected again on Wednesday, with a chance for showers and thunderstorms in the late afternoon and evening.
The heat is expected to drop significantly Thursday and Friday, with high temperatures of 90 and 86, respectively, and lowered humidity will offer additional relief, Fishel said.
Many people heeded warnings to stay indoors and avoid physical exertion Tuesday and no cases of heat exhaustion or heat stroke were reported so far, said emergency room doctors in the Triangle.
Some athletes in Cary and Fayetteville, however, decided to sweat it out and still hit the fields, despite the sweltering temperatures.
Coach Sean Martin, who continued with a youth Cary soccer camp as scheduled, said he was required by the city to take a class on the warning signs of heat exhaustion.
“If a kid starts not responding or getting grumpy, that’s a big key that they need to take a break,” Martin said. “Maybe they’re a little overheated and need some water.”
He supervised mandatory water breaks every ten minutes until the camp ended at noon, before the highest heat of the day had struck.
In Fayetteville, where it’s typically a few degrees warmer than the Triangle, social services officials set up an air-conditioned room, at 1225 Ramsey St., for people trying to get out of the heat. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday anytime a heat advisory is issued or the heat index reaches 100 degrees throughout the summer.
Cumberland County’s department of public health warned residents to use extra caution in Tuesday's heat because smoky, hazy air conditions in the area from wildfires burning in Bladen and Pender counties can exacerbate health threats. Children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions should be especially careful.
Cumberland County schools canceled all athletic activities planned after 10 a.m. Wednesday and ordered that all outdoor events must be canceled or moved inside.
But the heat didn’t stop Nick Crucet, second baseman for the Swamp Dogs, from jumping rope and stretching outside Tuesday afternoon.
Crucet participated in a six-hour baseball camp for little leaguers on Monday and went home a little woozy, he said.
“The heat got the best of me. I was out there too long,” Crucet said.
Heat exhaustion forced him to sit out Monday night’s game, but he said he had to “get right back on it” Tuesday, despite the temperatures.
Still, doctors say, physical exercise in the extreme heat is not advisable.
“(Some athletes) think they can go out and drink lots of fluids and ride their bike 30 minutes like they normally do and they’re the ones that often end up in the emergency department very ill,” said Dr. David Messerly.
Though doctors urged people to stay indoors in the air conditioning, some people had no choice but to be outdoors, or worse, indoors without a cooling system.
The Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh distributed fans and air conditioners to those in need, but they said demand is outpacing the donations they’ve received from the community. So far this year they’ve given out 900 fans and 600 air conditioners. They had 37 calls Tuesday morning alone requesting assistance.
On Brooks Avenue in Raleigh, a group of movers was not only working outside, they were carrying heavy furniture and loading it into a moving truck.
“The heat will get you,” said mover Tyler Holloway, but he’s learned to prepare.
“You’ve definitely got to plan ahead (and) stay hydrated,” he said. “We usually like to start in the morning when it’s cooler.”
Holloway said he wears light clothing and starts drinking water the day before a move.
That’s the same advice WRAL’s Dr. Allen Mask offers people who want to beat the heat.
"You want to try to prepare as much as you can," Mask said. "That means wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses to protect eyes, loose fitting clothing preferably (in) white or light colors."
Mask said this is especially true for people older than 65 and younger than 4 because they have more difficulty regulating body temperature. Mask said that certain medications, such as like beta-blockers, diuretics, antihistamines, tranquilizers and anti-psychotics, also impair the body's ability to regulate body temperature.
Mask said he has already seen cases of heat exhaustion this summer. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include headache, weakness, fatigue and muscle cramps. Heat stroke occurs when body temperature reaches 104 degree or above.
"The body does the best it can to regulate body temperature, sweating as a means to bring core body temperature down," Mask said. "At times, you just need to call a time out (and) take a break."