Triangle's sweltering heat rages on

Posted July 21, 2011 9:10 a.m. EDT
Updated July 22, 2011 2:17 p.m. EDT

— Thursday's heat and humidity combined to create sweltering conditions for Triangle residents, and the temperature even tied a heat record for this day set in 1952.

This dangerous trend is expected to linger through the weekend, WRAL chief meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport's record temperature on this day was 102 degrees in 1952, and the airport reached that same temperature on Thursday.

Areas south of the Triangle saw isolated showers Thursday afternoon.

The brutal heat will return Friday and Saturday with a high 102 degrees. RDU hit 103 degrees on July 22,1952 and 105 degrees on July 23, 1952 – the hottest temperature ever recorded in Raleigh.

Air quality officials have issued a health notice for air pollution in the Charlotte, Fayetteville and Triangle metropolitan areas on Friday.

Forecasters have predicted Code Orange conditions, which means that air quality in those areas is likely to be unhealthy for sensitive groups. People who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid moderate exertion outdoors.

Sensitive groups include children and older adults, people who work or exercise outdoors, people with heart conditions and those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory ailments.

Doctors say staying hydrated is key, but many senior citizens are on heart and blood pressure medicines that flush out fluids, and the seniors don't realize they aren't drinking enough.

"To be quite honest, a lot of older folks are tough, so they try to tough it out and they think, 'I'm going to be OK. I'm just hot,'" said Rex Hospital emergency room Dr. David Messerly.

WakeMed reported that they've treated 27 heat-related illnesses or injuries from July 12 to Thursday, compared with 15 in the same time frame last year.

"Could we see deaths? We certainly could, we certainly could," Messerly said. "We’re getting into temperatures that are especially dangerous, so we’ll tell everybody, but especially the elderly, to stay indoors, don’t go out in the heat and stay hydrated.

The Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital in Durham said it has seen a dramatic increase in the number of pets suffering from heat stroke. One dog died and another was in critical condition from heat stroke on Thursday. 

Veterinary experts advise owners to limit outdoor activity to cooler parts of the day and build activity slowly. Owners should watch for breathing problems, vomiting and diarrhea, seizure and sudden collapse.