Early heat wave warms up Midwest, East

Wednesday, April 17, 2002

It's not even May yet, but it feels like July this week as temperatures have climbed into the 80s and the low 90s across the Plains and along the East Coast, drawing people outside in shorts and T-shirts.

In Cape Girardeau, Roland D. Davis basked in the sun Tuesday, lounging on a friend's back stairs on Broadway.

A roofer with Davis Roofing, he already sports a red, peeling back that will darken into a deep brown tan as summer progresses. He said he's up before dawn so he can spend as many hours working during the cooler part of the day.

By 4 p.m., he was able to relax.

"Let me be the first to say it," he said with a grin. "It's not the heat; it's the humidity."

Lorrie Sterling and Amy Berry treated their children to an afternoon in Capaha Park Tuesday.

Both wearing shorts, the two women chatted as they kept four swinging children in motion with a push here, then there.

"It's too pretty to stay inside," Berry said.

The crowd at Arena Golf would agree. The parking lot at the driving range and batting cages was full, and golfers lined the field like infantry.

John Cothran, who works in the pro shop, said it was so busy Sunday people were waiting in line for a turn to hit on the driving range. The batting cages and putt-putt course were busy as well.

Jason Owen, who gives golf lessons, said his client list doubled in the last week and business in general is booming.

"You can always tell when the hours go from closed at 6:30 p.m. to closed at 10:30 p.m. that we're keeping busy," Owen said.

After an odd winter that saw tulips sprouting in January in Iowa and a March snowstorm blamed for more than 20 deaths from Texas to the Great Lakes, temperatures jumped to summer-like levels Monday and Tuesday.

New York City's Central Park hit 90 degrees Tuesday, beating the old record of 88 that had been on the record books since 1896. Skaters wore shorts and T-shirts on the rapidly thinning ice of the Rockefeller Center rink while tourists sought shady spots to sit.

Temperatures reached record highs Monday from Colorado to Indiana, including 84 at Denver; 91 at St. Joseph, Mo.; 90 at La Crosse, Wis.; and 91 at Waterloo and Mason City, Iowa. Chicago's high of 88 on Monday was 30 degrees above the average high for April 15.

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