Weather Updates

Chicagoans endure another day of scorching heat

Ed Morriswipes swefrom his face as he co-workers from A Touch Pools (swimming pool service installaticompany) repair Gerri Kotas' pool

Ed Morrison wipes sweat from his face as he and co-workers from A Touch of Pools (a swimming pool service and installation company) repair Gerri Kotas' pool (not pictured) on Rodenburg Rd. Thursday, July 21, 2011, in Roselle. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: October 27, 2011 12:33AM

Fierce, volatile, unyielding and whoa!

The Chicago Sun-Times ‘weather word’ — the one-word weather forecast that has appeared on the front page every day for decades — made for grim reading this week.

Friday’s forecast: Ugh!

With temperatures hitting 99 degrees Thursday at O’Hare, 101 degrees at Midway Airport, the humidity-adjusted heat-index hitting 110, and highs reaching up to 90 expected Friday and Saturday despite an approaching cool front, patience remains a virtue much in demand.

Though well below the 106 degree heat that killed more than 700 residents in 1995, Thursday’s furnace-hot temperature slowed Metra trains and buckled rails on the CTA Red Line near Chinatown, causing significant and uncomfortable delays.

It forced residents to run air-conditioners flat-out through the night, helping set an all-time record for peak electricity usage in the Chicago-area late Wednesday, ComEd said.

Even inside air-conditioned railcars, there was little respite for CTA passengers.

“I think that’s not fair. It’s not right,” said sweltering 34-year-old Ravenswood accountant Aogis Bulvron, as she sweated out the ride on a 94 degree Brown Line train Thursday afternoon.

“They need to find out a way to fix the problem.”

As passengers piled frizzy hair into messy updos and listlessly waved homemade fans in an attempt to cool off, the Sun-Times also recorded temperatures of 89 degrees on a Red Line train and 92 degrees on an Orange Line train.

CTA spokeswoman Lambrini Lukidis said the air conditioners on trains are set to 74 degrees and checked daily, but that “the continual opening of the doors and the number of people onboard” made it difficult to keep the trains cool. Only 14 temperature-related complaints have been received this week, she added.

The explanation won’t impress rider Cate Crain, 28, who described the stuffy heat on the Orange and Brown lines as “dangerous.”

“There are certainly measures that can be taken to make it less miserable — especially for the elderly and kids,” she said.

The city’s efforts to warn residents to take precautions and care of elderly and isolated neighbors appeared to be paying off, with the Fire Department reporting lower than normal emergency calls and the Cook County Medical Examiner yet to record a single heat-related death.

More than 170 vulnerable elderly or disabled residents have received well being checks, while 7,000 more who got automated reverse 911 calls were receiving personalized follow-up calls Thursday, according to Family and Support Services department spokeswoman Anne Sheahan.

Sheahan cautioned that the final toll on the city’s most at-risk residents likely won’t be known for some time, because those who need help the most are often the most isolated.

Heat-related animal deaths showed the dangers are real.

Animal 911, an emergency veterinary clinic in Skokie, has had three dogs die of heat stroke in the last week, veterinarian Deanne Strat said.

“People aren’t always aware of how much [the heat] can affect the animal,” Strat said. “In this temperature, it’s too hot for a dog to even go on a normal walk.”

Chicago Animal Care and Control has had almost twice the usual number of inhumane treatment calls during the heatwave, said assistant to the director Brad Powers.

An air quality alert across the region was yet another reason to stay indoors, with the National Weather Service advising people who work or spend time outside to take extra precautions, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening, wear light and loose fitting clothing, drink plenty of water and know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

As for that cool front? The weather service said it there is a 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Friday.

Any relief will be brief as Saturday will return to the lower 90s with the heat index back up to 100-105.

Or put it another way, ugh again.


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