Source: Sherman Publications

Area sizzles

by Susan Bromley

July 20, 2011

Baby, it’s hot outside.

How hot?

It’s so hot Sue Storrs’ weeds are dying.

“I’ve never seen that,” laughed the Goodrich resident. “It’s horrible. Thank goodness I have air conditioning and a pool. I’ve been staying in the house. My pool is 90 degrees in the deep end and that’s without a heater.”

Temperatures soared to levels that can be lethal to people as well as animals this week. Matt Mosteiko, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in White Lake Township, said on Tuesday the area was in the midst of a heat wave that began July 17 and was expected to last at least through Sunday. A heat wave is defined as weather in which temperatures reach 90 degrees or higher for five days in a row or more.

“This is an unusually strong or persistent heat wave,” said Mosteiko. “The last time we had a heat wave of eight days or more in this area was July 1987.” The average temperature for mid-July in the Detroit area is about 81 degrees. The highest ever recorded temperature in Detroit was 105 on July 24, 1934. Flint’s highest recorded temperature was 104 degrees on June 1 of that same year. The longest recorded heat wave in the area lasted 11 days, ending on Sept. 4, 1953.

Mosteiko said humidity is also higher than normal.

“Humidity has been 40 to 50 percent, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but when it’s this hot, it is,” he said.

In addition to the searing temperatures, the area has seen little rain. A Monday afternoon thunderstorm that blew through dumped .62 inch of rain in White Lake Township, and only 1.12 total rainfall has been recorded for July, while 3.16 is the average amount of precipitation for this month.

NWS issued an excessive heat warning Wednesday for the area that was to last through Thursday, when temperatures were expected to top 100 degrees.

Brandon Fire Chief Dave Kwapis said the department had not received any medical calls related to heat exhaustion or heat stroke during the current hot spell, but has received them in the past. Members of the Community Emergency Response Team were dispatched this week to check on senior citizens in the area and Kwapis asks that if any residents have neighbors who are homebound, to check on them and make sure they are doing all right.

“Limit exposure to sun and heat, especially for the younger and older population— babies and seniors,” advised Kwapis. “If you don’t need to be outside, stay inside with the air conditioning, or at least get in the shade. If you are working outside, keep hydrated throughout the day. Don’t drink a gallon of water right before sports practice, stay hydrated throughout the day or you’ll get sick.”

Furry friends are also at risk. Dr. Lincoln Baylis, veterinarian at Baylis Animal Hospital, 50 S. Ortonville Road, said that exceptional care needs to be taken with dogs when temperature reach even 80 degrees. Above 85 degrees, he recommends allowing them out to relieve themselves, but bringing them right back inside the house. Walks should only be taken in the early morning or late evening and asphalt and concrete should be tested with your barefeet to make sure it’s not too hot, otherwise, a dog’s paw pads could be burned. Never run with a dog in temperatures this high.

“It alarms me when I see people jogging with their dog when it’s 90 degrees,” Baylis said. “Do it to yourself, but not the dog.”

Dogs “sweat” through panting, he noted, and when it is this hot and humid, it’s difficult for them to cool themselves. Signs of heat exhaustion in animals (cats are also susceptible) include decreased appetite, excessive panting, and restless, agitated behavior, such as getting up, sitting down, laying down and getting back up again. If you suspect your animal may be suffering from heat illness, their temperature can be taken using a rectal thermometer. A dog’s normal body temperature is between 101.5 and 102.5. If their temperature is above 103, they will require cooling.

“If there is ever a concern, put them in water, even room temperature water, and continually hose them or pour water over their head and down their back,” Baylis said. “The water doesn’t have to be cold, but it may take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour of doing that if you suspect they are overheating.”

If a dog has to be outside for any amount of time, Baylis recommends hosing them down and providing plenty of fresh water and shade. Still, he believes if the temperature is above 85, pet owners are taking a chance by having their animals outside.

Mosteiko said the rest of the summer should have above normal temperatures. He expects a cooldown this week for at least a couple days of relief, but said it’s possible a high pressure system is on the way behind it for another extended period of hotter temperatures.