Wednesday hottest day of 2007 so far; some relief coming

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The hottest day of the year so far sent the mercury up to 102 degrees Wednesday at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport and prompted a heat advisory, conditions that are likely to repeat themselves today before a weak front brings a little relief.

Wednesday was the 21st straight day with a high temperature above 90 as the city closed in on the records for lengthy heat waves. But the 102-degree mark did not eclipse the 104-degree record set in 1988 during a heat wave that set five records in a row for daily high temperatures, including four above 100.

"The weak cold front will bring some scattered thunderstorms, more cloud cover, and it will be a little cooler and a little less humid," said Mike York, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.

While the forecast indicates a high temperature of about 91 for Saturday and Sunday, it is possible the string of 90-degree days could be broken over the weekend, York said.

Whether the weather service issues another heat advisory for today will be decided as the day wears on, York said. The advisory issued last week, which was issued for two days and then expanded to four, was put out because there was certainty that little would change. The timing and strength of the front will determine what warnings, if any, are issued, he said.

But it does seem likely that the weather will moderate, York added. "It doesn't look like it is going to get real pleasant, but this kind of heat won't return next week, this 100-degree-plus stuff," York said.

While the heat is baking the region, there have been few reported cases of heat-related illness and the area's roads are holding up well, said Mike Helpingstine of the Missouri Department of Transportation's Sikeston district office.

"This helps us on the asphalt to have the heat, because asphalt remains more flexible than concrete," he said. "Concrete slabs will expand and, because they are an incompressible material, blow up."

There have been no reports of buckling concrete, he said. The highway agency has worked over the past five to 10 years to put joints sealed with a material that can handle the expansion to prevent those problems.

"We were having a lot of problems with that 10 to 15 years ago," Helpingstine said.

Experts advise anyone who must be outdoors to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks. Pet owners who keep their animals outside are urged to keep clean, cool water available and position their animal to take advantage of shade.

335-6611, extension 126

Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk? Watch this video to find out

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