Mercury hits 100 at lakefront; scorching heat likely to hang around
BY MITCH DUDEK, ARIEL CHEUNG AND DARRYL HOLLIDAY Staff Reporters July 20, 2011 5:22AM
Lake Minear Beach Lifeguard Meg Ryan gets splashed with buckets of water during a beach water battle with persons trying to beat the heat, having fun and staying hydrated at the Libertyville lake. (L-R) Jason Kappes,13; Austin Hilsmier, 9; Matt Wagner,10; and Timmy Ryan,13, get in on the fun. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times
HIGH TEMPERATURES ON WEDNESDAY
Aurora — 97 degrees
Buffalo Grove — 100
Chicago Heights — 103
Cicero — 99
Downers Grove — 99
Elgin — 99
Evanston — 100
Glenview — 102
Harvey — 103
Hammond, Ind. — 99
Highland Park — 102
McHenry — 99
Mundelein — 96
Naperville — 99
Joliet — 99
Merrillville, Ind. — 96
Oak Park — 99
Schaumburg — 101
Steger — 98
Tinley Park — 99
Updated: October 27, 2011 12:32AM
The mercury hit 100 degrees in the city for the first time this summer — but that was at Northerly Island, so officially, temperatures still haven’t hit that mark in the city this year, or actually, since 2005.
But don’t tell that to the throngs who got stuck in the heat in the city and suburbs, where the mercury also hit 100 in Wheeling and Lansing, according to the National Weather Service.
“It’s hot as hell,’’ said Jeremiah McAfee, 17, who was waiting for the bus at 63rd and Stony Island after going to summer school. “I’m going to die out here.’’
At nearby Jackson Park, a pair of golfers took to the links despite the heat. “I spent a horrendous winter inside, so I overcompensate by going outside in the hot weather,’’ said retired Amtrak worker Gary Kimbrough, 57. One benefit: Kimbrough and his partner, Mike Washington, both South Siders, had the course nearly to themselves.
The sweltering conditions came on the fourth day of what’s likely to be eight straight days with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. It’s the worst prolonged heat in Chicago since July 1999, which saw five consecutive days of 90-plus temps.
The weather service said Wednesday was one of the most uncomfortably hot days since the heat index hit 110 at O’Hare during the 1995 deadly heat wave, which caused more than 700 heat-related deaths.
While the Cook County Medical Examiner said there were no heat-related deaths as of Wednesday evening, at Northerly Island, the heat index hit an uncomfortable 112.
“It’s wicked hot,’’ said Peter Nichols, 24, who actually went to 12th Street beach to escape the heat in his Logan Square home. He said the breeze at the beach actually made it more bearable there even though it was technically hotter.
The heat even took the professional forecasters by surprise.
“It’s a little bit warmer than we thought it was going to be,” said Mike Bardou, a National Weather Service meteorologist.
Still, it was slightly cooler at O’Hare Airport, where official records are kept. At 3 p.m., the day’s high registered at 99 degrees with a heat index of 108, the weather service said. That fell short of the record 101 degrees in 1980. The last time it hit 100 there was in July 2005.
Across the Chicago area, the heat took its toll on residents, workers, businesses and even animals.
It made it extremely difficult for firefighters battling a house fire Wednesday morning in the 4500 block of South California that left 11 people homeless.
“The response to a typical house fire is practically doubled in this weather,” spokesman Larry Langford said. “With the heat coming off the fire coupled with sun and exertion — sweat becomes almost like steam inside their uniforms. We have to cycle crews faster than we normally would.”
The fire department also responded to 68 heat-related calls from 9 a.m. Monday to midday Wednesday, mainly for people feeling ill from the heat and passing out, Langford said.
The city fielded 96 requests for well-being checks Wednesday, a heavy volume compared with 51 Tuesday and 62 Monday. And more than 300 people have sought relief at the city’s six cooling centers since the beginning of the heat wave.
The Anti-Cruelty Society has seen twice the usual amount of humane investigation calls, spokeswoman Nadine Walmsley said. In the last few days, the animal shelter has responded to more than 80 calls concerning pets stuck in extreme conditions.
Many businesses saw fewer customers as residents stayed inside.
Joe Kainz, an employee of Coulsons Music Matters, 77 E. Van Buren, said the number of customers as of 3 p.m. was “down by at least half. We’ve only have 10 to 12 people in here today.’’
Not surprisingly, it wasn’t a good day to go ice skating: The indoor Carol Stream Ice Rink turned into a puddle. “There are probably a few other rinks struggling to keep their ice solid,” Zamboni mechanic Danny Ahearn said.
The Race Judicata, a 5K run to benefit Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, scheduled to take place along the lakefront Thursday evening, was converted to a 5K walk. According to an alert e-mailed to those registered for the run, race organizers have “carefully reviewed the weather conditions for Chicago at 6 p.m. Thursday,” which showed the projected heat index at the start of the race was expected to be between 101 and 104 degrees.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire