Updated: July 17, 2013 6:11AM
The heat wave that has sent the heat index soaring into the 100s is staying put, with little relief in sight until Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
“Our forecast is staying right on track,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Mark Ratzer said Wednesday morning. “The only good news is that we’re one day closer to Friday.”
Wednesday is expected to see high temperatures in the low-90s, with slightly cooler spots near Lake Michigan. The heat index is expected to climb near 100 degrees, Ratzer said.
Thunderstorms and torrential rains are also a looming threat, prompting the weather service to issue a “hazardous weather outlook.”
“Any isolated locations that do see a thunderstorm could get brief torrential downpours and strong gusty winds along with deadly cloud-to-ground lightning,” according to a statement released by the weather service.
Thursday and Friday will bring slightly higher temperatures and heat indices, with Friday’s possibly reaching 105 degrees. However, there will be no breeze by the Lake to provide relief to the immediate area, according to the weather service.
A cold front approaching from the northwest should reach the area Friday evening. Much of the area has a chance to see rainfall, especially areas near the lakefront, Ratzer said.
At 5:15 a.m., the temperature at Northerly Island was 80.1 degrees.
The heat and humidity, which first hit Monday, is believed to have caused the death of at least one person, according to preliminary findings by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
Young children, the elderly and the infirmed are advised to find a place with air conditioning and stay there.
“What we recommend is to take it easy,” Ratzer said. “If you have to work outside, take breaks in the shade and drink a good amount of water. Otherwise, if you can, try to get into air conditioning to give your body a break.”
People were scarce at many area playgrounds and tennis courts Tuesday, but water parks were popular.
After finishing a picnic lunch under a small shade tree, David Hlavin and his 3-year-old son joined the crowd keeping cool in the splash pad at Hibernia Park in New Lenox. “It’s absolutely the best place to be,” Hlavin said.
To fight the risk of heat exhaustion, residents can escape to cooling centers and other facilities, such as libraries, park districts or police stations to get relief, said Matt Smith, communication director for Chicago’s Family and Support Services. “We’re here to help out, but people can do the unthinkable and check up on each other too,” Smith said.