With daily heat indexes creeping past 100 degrees, this week has been unpleasant for many, but not unseasonable.
“The type of heat we’re having is not uncommon,” said Barrett Smith, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Raleigh. “This year we have had numerous days where the temperatures have been over 100 – maybe more so than we typically have.”
The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for most of central and eastern North Carolina, including Scotland County, from noon to 7 p.m. today. Heat index values are expected to reach 109 degrees on a typical afternoon during a summer that’s pushing a record for consistent heat.
“Here in Raleigh where we keep our official records, we have had nine 100 degree days, and the most ever was in 1999 with 12,” said Smith. “So we are approaching the record number of 100 degree days.”
North Carolina’s humidity hasn’t helped matters, exacerbating the severity of already scorching days.
“In some of the stretches that we’ve seen, humidity plays a big role,” said Smith. “We’ve reached 105 a couple of times this year already, but the humidity makes it seem like it’s 110.”
Although the National Weather Service and health officials recommend that outdoor activities be reserved for early in the morning and the very late afternoon, some, like produce seller Madison Cheek, brave the heat for hours on end.
Armed with a cooler of drinks, towels, and an umbrella, Cheek spent the majority of Thursday outdoors. From 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., he parked on Ford Drive behind Save-A-Lot in Laurinburg with his produce.
“It’s pretty hot, but I’ve got plenty of fluid out here,” Cheek said. “I can stand the heat, and the umbrella helps a whole lot.”
Kathie Cox, Healthy Carolinians coordinator with the Scotland County Health Department, said parents need to take special care to make sure children are safe from the heat.
“They’re still running through the park, playing sports and enjoying all their favorite summertime activities,” Cox said.”While you don’t want to spoil their fun, you want to make sure your kids are protected from heat-related illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration, which can also cause heat stroke.”
For $2, many area children are beating the heat at the Scotland County Parks and Recreation Splash Pad, open afternoons Tuesday through Saturday. According to Parks and Recreation Director Shannon Newton, the splash pad has seen an upswing in use on intensely hot days.
“On July 7, we had 90 children that day,” Newton said. “That was the hottest day we’ve had in the month of July. People are coming when it’s hot, and there are still a lot of people without air conditioning.”
So far in July, the splash pad has had 1,469 visitors, with 1,166 in the month of June. The splash pad opened for full time usage on June 12, and will remain open on Tuesdays through Saturdays through Aug. 18.
Currently closed for repairs, the splash pad is expected to open again next week. Call 277-2455 for information on the splash pad schedule.
Although the next few days will bring a slight break in the heat, temperatures are expected to remain above average into September.
“Right now we’re looking at a cool down for the weekend and into next week to get back toward normal readings, which are around 90,” Smith said. “But the outlook for the next month and even into September is for above normal temperatures. Sometimes the pattern’s a little more predictable than others.”