Heat comes back after mild June

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

After a mild start to summer, the heat has returned to Southeast Missouri.

With temperatures rising above 90 only four times in June, the recent heat wave left Southeast Missouri residents looking for relief. The temperature rose to 92 on Sunday and Monday.

While weather.com is forecasting a high of 96 today, the temperature will feel like 108 in the late afternoon. Because of that, the American Red Cross will open its shelter at 2430 Myra Drive today for people to use as a cooling center.

Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky., said the temperatures are not out of line for July.

"It's a little above average," Friedlein said. But July may seem hotter because June was unusually cool.

Friedlein said the dew point, which is a measure of moisture in the air, has been high and "is what really makes it unbearable."

That unbearable heat leaves the elderly and young children at the highest risk of heat-related illnesses, but Charlotte Craig, director of the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center, said she is just as worried about people who work outdoors.

One way around the heat is to use a fan, Craig said, "but sometimes it can make the situation worse. It is just circulating hot air and can raise your body temperature."

She said fans should be used in a well-ventilated area, such as a room with open windows.

The Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau has helped those in need during the heat for the past 13 years through its "fan club." This year, the Salvation Army has distributed more than 50 electric fans, but is in need of more donations.

"All the fans that have been brought in have went back out, and there is a quite extensive waiting list for fans," said Maj. Michael Thomas of the Salvation Army.

People interested in donating electric fans may call the Salvation Army at 335-7000.

Thomas said he thinks fan donations have been slow this year due to the mild June temperatures.

"People haven't thought of fans," he said. "If they don't feel the heat themselves, they don't sense the need for fans by others."

Though cooler weather hampered fan donations, it also has led to a decrease in heat-related illnesses.

Craig said area hospitals have only reported four heat-related illnesses, compared to 18 at this time last year.

Friedlein said some relief is expected by late Wednesday afternoon. A pressure system moving into the area will bring storms and then temperatures in the 80s.

jwachter@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127

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