Midwest residents take refuge in air-conditioned buildings as heat wave lingers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Withering temperatures and humidity in the Midwest prompted residents to take refuge in air-conditioned buildings as officials warned people to beware of heat-related illnesses.
The Missouri Department of Health upgraded its heat advisory to a warning Wednesday as humidity pushed heat indexes well above 100 while actual temperatures hovered in the mid-90s.
Temperatures were expected to cool slightly Friday, with highs in the mid-80s to lower 90s, according to the weather service.
The heat contributed to the death of Korey Stringer, an offensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings.
Stringer, 27, died of complications from heat stroke Wednesday, a day after collapsing at training camp. He was weak and breathing rapidly after the team’s morning practice Tuesday, when temperatures reached the mid-90s.
In Wisconsin, Chicago Bears coach Dick Jauron canceled Wednesday afternoon’s practice because of high heat and humidity, and moved the team’s morning practices back an hour to 7:30 a.m.
A record for consecutive days with 100-degree temperatures was set in Austin, Texas. Wednesday marked the 21st consecutive day with temperatures above 100. Monday, the city tied the record of 19 days set in 1925.
A beneficiary of the heat was Jim Moy, owner of Jim-Jim’s Water-Ice, which sells cups of fruit-flavored ice at its downtown Austin store and two public pools.
”I don’t particularly care for temperatures over 100, but for business purposes, let’s keep it going,” Moy said.
In Kansas, it was so hot people didn’t even want to go swimming.
Consistent 100-degree temperatures – and even higher heat indexes – have trimmed attendance at Wichita’s 12 public swimming pools by up to 50 percent, prompting pools to close early some days.
”After a point, it gets so hot that people … don’t even want to go outside,” said Craig Nelson, the city’s aquatics supervisor.
The weather service issued a heat advisory for most of central and eastern Kansas through Thursday.
The heat wave in the nation’s midsection was caused by high pressure centered over Kansas City, said Karen Eagle, a meteorological technician with the weather service.
”This is fairly normal summer weather,” she said. ”The only thing abnormal is the relative humidity caused by excessive rain … that never allowed the ground to dry.”
Illinois residents suffered Wednesday through a fourth straight day with temperatures above 90.
Four deaths were attributed to the heat in Chicago. The city kept cooling centers – air-conditioned buildings such as senior centers and libraries – open around the clock, even offering to drive people to the centers, city 911 spokesman Larry Langford said.
”We’re telling people to spend at least some of the day in air-conditioned surroundings, take showers, use wet towels to cool down, drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine and alcohol,” he said.
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