Weather

Spring heat wave continues

Posted June 1, 2011 12:27 p.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2011 5:39 a.m. EDT

— Summer is still nearly three weeks away, but that's not stopping Mother Nature from spreading oppressive summertime heat over much of central North Carolina.

Thursday's high is predicted to hit 93 degrees under a cloudless sky.

That's a day after temperatures soared to 95 degrees at Raleigh-Durham International Airport and 96 degrees in Fayetteville. Meanwhile, the heat index made it feel as it were 102 degrees in Raleigh, 101 degrees in Chapel Hill and Fayetteville and the upper 90s in other parts of the area, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

And there's no end in sight.

The WRAL WeatherCenter's seven-day forecast has temperatures remaining in the 90s through the weekend, with one exception.

A front moving through the area could offer a bit of relief, dropping the temperatures just a bit toward the end of the work week.

"On Friday, the temperature and humidity will come down, and a high of 87 could actually feel pretty decent before the heat comes roaring back over the weekend," Fishel said. "Temperatures on Sunday will be as hot they were today, if not hotter."

Local utilities reported average power usage from customers but advised customers to start conserving energy to prevent any problems meeting demand and to help save on utility bills.

Health officials warned people to stay hydrated with water and to stay inside, if possible, and to limit any outdoor activities to the early morning or evening.

Rick Weeks, of Joe’s Heating and AC, was answering calls on Wednesday to prepare air conditioning units for the hot weather.

It is the “typical beginning of the season jitters that we see every year. Same old, same old every year,” Weeks said.

He said he was mainly seeing problems from dirty air filters and delayed maintenance.

“We haven’t really got into the meat of the season where things are going to break down,” Weeks said.

Students at Greenwood Elementary in Raleigh had to sweat through classes for part of Wednesday after the air conditioning unit there broke.

Authorities said 12,000 people in Raleigh lost power and air conditioning when a tree fell on a power pole. 

Workers at Children's Discovery Center said they kept a close eye on the thermostat to see if they'd have to close down.

“We had to go to each classroom and let them know what was going on, see what the temperature was,” Children’s Discovery Center Director Anne Caspar said. “You have to keep the room between 68 and 71 (degrees).”

Many of the children napped through the power outage and the air conditioning came back on just in time to avoid an early release.

Wake County announced its White Flag Network service Wednesday, in which local businesses hang white flags to indicate that they are offering heat relief to the homeless, allowing them to be inside out of the hot sun when the heat index rises above 101 degrees.

Still, some can't stop for the heat.

In Morrisville, firefighters spent most of the day battling the heat while also trying to put out a house fire at 414 Church St., where flames reached anywhere from 500 to 1,000 degrees.

There were no reports of injuries from the fire, but two Cary firefighters who were injured were in stable condition Wednesday evening, and one Morrisville firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion.

No one was home at the time of the fire, Morrisville town administrators said.

More than 40 firefighters from four local fire departments were at the scene, rotating in and out of the fire in 10-minute increments. Wake County EMS set up a cooling station to rehydrate firefighters and to check their vital signs.

There was nothing alluring about the Carolina sky over Fayetteville, where the stifling air was hazy. Temperatures there were expected to be the highest in the state Wednesday, with the high flirting with the 100-degree mark.

The Cumberland County Department of Social Services started distributing fans to some residents without air conditioning or those with heat-sensitive medical conditions.

Donations were being accepted at the department at 1225 Ramsey Street or by calling 910-677-2388.

Residents in Fayetteville said they expect heat waves in August but can't remember in recent years such hot weather in the spring.