Weather Updates

‘Excessive heat’: Chicago could see a trifecta of 100-degree days

ShamyrMcNeil 12 walks thru spray from an open Fire Hydrant 1500 block Trumbull. Tuesday July 3 2012 | Brian Jackson~Chicago

Shamyra McNeil 12 walks thru the spray from an open Fire Hydrant in the 1500 block of Trumbull. Tuesday, July 3, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: August 5, 2012 6:23AM

The fiercest three-day heat wave in 65 years is heading Chicago’s way in time for Independence Day, forecasters predict.

Temperatures in excess of 100 degrees are expected Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to the National Weather Service, which issued an excessive heat warning Tuesday urging residents to do everything possible to stay cool.

If the forecasts of a 101-degree high on the 4th of July and a 103-degree high on the two following days prove correct, it will be only the third time in history the city has experienced three 100-degree days in a row, and the first time since August 1947.

There will be little opportunity to cool off: Overnight “lows” were expected to remain in the 80s through Thursday night.

The hot spell couldn’t come at a worse time 17,300 people who were still without power late Tuesday following storms Sunday. ComEd said around 16,800 of those are in the northern or near western suburbs. While most should get their power turned on by Wednesday, some might have to wait until Thursday, officials said.

Even Tuesday’s 95-degree weather was already causing some Chicagoans problems.

“It’s hot, it’s muggy, I think I’m about to die,” said North Sider Shantá Marcum, 22, as she battled the heat downtown. “I have asthma because it’s so humid — I passed out this morning and had to receive breathing treatment because my air conditioning wasn’t working.”

Such incidents weren’t widespread, according to the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. But the higher temperatures have the potential to cause havoc when Chicagoans head outdoors to celebrate the nation’s birthday on Wednesday.

At least 15 Chicago-area residents died of heat-related causes during a scorching week last July. An infamous 1995 heat wave was blamed for more than 500 deaths.

Officials Tuesday reiterated the familiar summer warnings, urging residents to cool off in air-conditioned buildings, drink plenty of water, to avoid alcohol and caffienated drinks and to check on elderly, ill or isolated friends and neighbors.

While the predicted high of 103 degrees falls two degrees short of Chicago’s official record of 105 degrees, recorded at the University of Chicago on July 24, 1934, the cumulative effect of continuous hot days has been blamed for deaths in previous years.

This week’s heat watch is in effect for Cook County until Thursday evening.

A watch means that a prolonged period of hot and humid weather that could cause heat illness is possible. A heat advisory — a lesser level of warning — is in effect until 9 p.m. Thursday for McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage and Will counties. A heat advisory will be in effect in Cook County when the more serious heat watch expires.

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