Residents sweat through another scorching day

Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Central High football players drank between drills during practice Monday evening, August 13, 2007. The team spent the first hour indoors because of high temperatures. (Kit Doyle)

Area residents suffered through another record day of sweltering temperatures Monday and the National Weather Service said the sizzling heat is expected to continue for at least the next five to seven days.

The heat hung like a glove on those working outdoors. The Cape Girardeau Central High School football team waited until 5 p.m. to practice because of the soaring temperatures.

Athletic director Mark Ruark said the school's coaches try to make sure that the players get enough water. Athletic trainers from the two local hospitals attend the outdoor practices of the various sports teams, Ruark said.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association recommends that schools take precautions when the heat index is higher 105 degrees. High temperatures and high humidity lead to a dangerous heat index, forecasters say.

The temperature reached 98 degrees for a high Monday, the weather service said. That broke the record of 96 degrees set in 1999. It was the third straight day in which the high temperature set or matched temperature records.

Cape Girardeau area residents have suffered through 100-degree days twice since Thursday.

Monday marked the 19th consecutive day with temperatures above 90 degrees, according to the weather service.

If the heat wave continues, the area could set another record, forecasters say. The record is 28 consecutive days of 90 degree or higher temperatures in Cape Girardeau, set in 1983. That heat wave didn't end until Sept. 11.

Despite Monday's sizzling temperatures, the weather service didn't issue a heat advisory. With relatively low humidity, the heat index reached 103 degrees. But that was still two degrees short of the number needed to issue a heat advisory, said meteorologist Robin Smith with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

But Smith said it's miserable outside with or without an official heat warning.

The hot temperatures are particularly a concern for the elderly, local fire department and Salvation Army officials said.

The Salvation Army has handed out more than 130 box fans to Cape Girardeau residents this summer. It has no more to hand out, said Salvation Army Maj. Ben Stillwell.

Some of those receiving fans -- one fan per family -- live in houses without air conditioning. Others have air conditioning but can't afford to pay the electric bill, Stillwell said.

Cape Girardeau assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider said area residents need to drink lots of water to help their bodies cope with the heat. Pets also need a lot of water and some shade to stay cool, he said.

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