City official: Heat wave’s ‘worst appears to be over’
BY TINA SFONDELES, JIM SCALZITTI AND JOSH MCGHEE Staff Reporters July 7, 2012 1:46PM
Susan Escorpizo of Chicago tries to stay cool at Millenium Park despite Chicago's heat wave.. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: August 9, 2012 9:40AM
You can turn down the AC, Chicago.
The insufferable heat spell that engulfed the city with 100-plus-degree days is over, with temps forecast to be in the mid-80s for the next several days, with overnight lows in the comfortable mid-60s.
“The relief is coming,” meteorologist Jamie Enderlen said.
At first glance, Saturday morning appeared to follow the rhythm of the three previous days when temps surpassed 100, as the mercury quickly shot up to 98 degrees near O’Hare and Midway airports. But that temperature steadily dropped to a more welcome mid-70s degrees by Saturday night, according to National Weather Service officials.
Still, officials urged caution, especially in the wake of a heat spell that contributed to the deaths of 10 people, including four more deaths confirmed by autopsies Saturday. More deaths were still being investigated as possibly heat-related.
“While the worst appears to be over, I urge Chicagoans to continue to be vigilant and check on their neighbors, particularly the elderly and individuals with medical conditions,” Gary Schenkel, director of the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, said at a Saturday evening news conference.
Nine of the past 10 days dating between June 28 and Saturday saw temps in the 90s or triple digits, and city officials said the demand for services because of the heat jumped. The stats:
◆ 734 heat-related calls to 911, including 50 Saturday.
◆ 605 heat-related emergency transports by the Chicago Fire Department, including 43 Saturday.
◆ 328 requests for well-being checks to the city’s 311 line, including 22 Saturday.
In addition, officials said Chicago Police conducted “thousands” of well-being checks in the past week and a half, and said that agencies and non-profits working with the city’s Department of Family and Support Services did 3,700 home visits.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office also confirmed the deaths of four additional people from heat-related causes when temperatures hit 103 degrees Friday. Saturday autopsies found Linda Figgures, 46, of the 6600 block of South Damen, died from heat stroke, with a secondary cause of obesity; Pamela Dairyco, 65, of the 4900 block of West Fullerton, died of heart disease with secondary causes of chronic drug use and heat stress; Mark Logerquist, 53, of the 1500 block of North Pulaski, died of heart disease, with heat stress listed as a secondary cause of death; and an unidentified man in his 30s, discovered in the 1-100 block of South Cicero, died of heat stroke after he was found with a core body temperature of 106 degrees.
Figgures’ home had no air-conditioning, her nephew, Dan Taylor, said Saturday.
Figgures and her husband “were on their way outside to sit on the porch when she told her husband she felt dizzy in the doorway right before she fell,” Taylor said.
He said his aunt also suffered from asthma and had had problems with the heat in the past. Still, he added: “God can do so many things. It’s crazy for people to die of heat stroke.”
Meanwhile, as the temperatures dropped Saturday, tourists and locals milling in the Loop tried to enjoy the cooler weather.
“It’s much, much better today. It’s nice,” Rena Honorow, 49, of Chicago said. “There’s actually a breeze for the first time in days.”
Shaded areas were popular for people walking near Millennium Park. But some locals embraced the sun, plopping down right in direct sunshine.
Matt Meyers and LeeAnn Reider rode their bikes into the park from the South Loop.
“I’m just sitting down and trying not to move too much,” Meyers, 36, said while taking a break.
“I’m drinking a lot of liquids. . . . I don’t like 100-degree heat. I like summer and being outside, but 100 degrees for three or four days is a little too much for me.”