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FRIDAY, AUGUST 10, 2007
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Decatur canines Scooby and Paddy cool down in Flint Creek at Point Mallard on Thursday. Thetwodogs,andanunpicturedcompanion, J.B., belong to Keith Carney, who adopted the animals from the Decatur Animal Shelter.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Decatur canines Scooby and Paddy cool down in Flint Creek at Point Mallard on Thursday. Thetwodogs,andanunpicturedcompanion, J.B., belong to Keith Carney, who adopted the animals from the Decatur Animal Shelter.

The dog days of summer
Forecast calls for slight relief of 100-degree temperatures as celestial phase nears end

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com 340-2395

Maybe the ancient Romans understood weather better than we think.

If you believe as they did, you would say the dog days of summer — and the recent string of triple-digit temperatures — end Saturday.

Oddly enough, the National Weather Service in Huntsville will end its heat advisory Friday night in anticipation of a cold front arriving Saturday.

It won't get cold, but temperatures that have hovered between 97 and 101 the past seven days will drop to the mid-90s, said Michelle Parcus, NWS meteorologist.

"The dew points also will drop, which will make things more comfortable," she said.

Thursday's high was 101 at the Weather Service's monitoring station at Pryor Field. The heat index was 102, the NWS said.

There was no heat relief unless you were inside with air conditioning.

From 3:30 to 5 p.m., The Daily took seven outdoor temperature readings around town. The coolest of those was in the water of the Decatur Country Club pool, but at 92 degrees, it was no surprise that the handful of college and high school students were content to lounge poolside.

The hottest was the surface of a green plastic slide at Adventure Park. It surpassed 130 degrees, the highest mark on the thermometer, appearing to reach about 140. There wasn't a single child at the playground.

The next hottest spot was the asphalt parking lot in front of Books-A-Million, where it read 130 degrees.

The black dashboard of this reporter's vehicle was next at 115, while the air conditioner ran at full blast.

That was worse than the vinyl seat of the non-air-conditioned school bus that had just finished carrying students home from Frances Nungester Elementary School. The bus was 107, after being parked for about five minutes with the windows slightly open.

Except for Athens students, special-needs students and a minority of other students, all youths who ride buses in The Daily's area do so without air conditioning.

Austin High football players went through drills on a practice field that registered 103.

Even inside in the shade of the new rue21 store at U.S. 31 and Alabama 67, where a construction crew was installing air conditioning duct work, the temperature was 99 about five feet below the ceiling.

The NWS forecasts much of the same for Friday, with highs around 100.

Any experienced Southerner knows there are plenty of hot days ahead. So why do the dog days of summer officially end Saturday, by some reckonings?

The mistaken belief is that the term signifies hot, sultry days "not fit for a dog," or that the weather is so hot it drives dogs mad.

Historically, however, the Old Farmers Almanac lists July 3 to Aug. 11 as the official dog days period.

It's within this timeframe that the Dog Star, Sirius, one of the brightest stars in the night sky, rises and sets in conjunction with the sun.

Ancient Romans believed the combination of the two was responsible for the extreme heat during the middle of the summer.

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