Forecasters: Summer's hottest days just ahead

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

City plans to open Osage Centre for relief as heat advisories expected later in week.

Area residents might find themselves steamed up this weekend from a blistering heat wave that is expected to send temperatures soaring into the high 90s.

Coupled with high humidity, it will feel like a temperature of 105 to 110 degrees, weather forecasters say.

The National Weather Service expects to put out several heat advisories later this week, warning people to be wary of the heat.

"You can easily get heat exhaustion and heatstroke," said meteorologist Kelly Hooper with the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Ky. "I was wanting to go out to the lake, but I am reconsidering it."

Temperatures are expected to be in the 95-degree range in the four-state region Thursday and even higher on Friday. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 90s by Saturday and continue in that range until Tuesday, he said.

Forecasters said a high pressure system is forcing the scorching heat across the Great Plains. Temperatures are expected to be around 100 degrees as far north as Des Moines, Iowa.

The Southeast Missouri chapter of the American Red Cross plans to turn the Osage Community Centre into a daytime emergency shelter later this week if temperatures climb as expected.

The Red Cross has opened emergency shelters during heat waves in the past, said Mary Burton, executive director of the agency in Cape Girardeau.

"Traditionally, we have 10 to 12 people who would come in to seek relief," she said. The shelter provides air-conditioned comfort, something some low-income residents don't have in their homes and apartments, Burton said.

If people outside Cape Girardeau need shelter from the heat, they should contact the Red Cross, she said.

The Red Cross has agreements with several Jackson churches to provide emergency shelter when needed, she said.

People need to drink plenty of water to combat the sweltering heat, she said. Soft drinks aren't the answer. "You don't want to be sucking down the caffeine," she said. "Those soft drinks do not quench your thirst."

The heat also should be a concern to pet owners, local Humane Society officials said.

Animal shelter manager Sue Sample said pets shouldn't be left in a car even for a few minutes. "It gets very hot, very quickly," she said. Pets can die in such circumstances, she said.

"You want to watch out particularly for your older dogs because older dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke," Sample said.

Outside pets need to be kept hydrated and provided with shade. "They need to have fresh, cool water," she said.

People can still walk their dogs. "They just need to be extra careful," Sample said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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