Daily photo by John Godbey|
Motorists at Beltline Road and Central Parkway Southwest were probably surprised to see a sign listing a temperature of 108 degrees Wednesday. The National Weather Service recorded a high of 104.
HOTTEST DAY OF THE YEAR
No relief in sight
Temperatures to continue to soar above 100 degrees
By Evan Belanger
The hottest day of the year marked the seventh day of triple-digit temperatures for the Decatur area Wednesday.
The high was 104 degrees, shattering the record of 101 set in 1954.
Don’t expect conditions to improve anytime soon.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Huntsville predict Thursday’s temperature will again climb past the 100-degree mark. They are cautioning residents to take extra precautions to stay cool.
A construction crew working on one of the city’s new fire stations is heeding that advice.
Clifton Pullen, a superintendent for Building Construction and Associates, said workers have been arriving at the job earlier each day in an effort to beat the heat.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Clifton Pullen takes a long drink of water during a break Wednesday while working on Decatur’s new fire station.
“If there was enough light to see what you were doing at 5 in the morning, we’d be out here then,” he said.
While temperatures should cool over the weekend with highs in the upper 90s, expect them to climb past 100 again by Monday afternoon. The heat wave should continue well into next week.
Sun levels on rise
In conjunction with the heat, sun levels are on the rise. The weather service reported Wednesday that ultraviolet levels were “very high.” Residents are advised to use sun block if they plan to stay outdoors more than 15 minutes.
A report from the Environmental Protection Agency shows pollution levels are increasing as a result of the heat and lack of rain. Thursday’s air-quality index lists Decatur in the “orange,” meaning people with asthma could experience difficulty breathing if overexposed.
Since temperatures began climbing more than a week ago, emergency crews have responded to several heat-related illnesses in the area. Units with Decatur Fire and Rescue have responded to at least a half dozen reports of heat exhaustion over the past two weeks, said Battalion Chief Kenneth Johnston.
Despite the warnings, several local people who work outdoors say they have no choice but to endure the heat.
At the Morgan County Farmers Market on Wednesday, about a dozen growers braved the heat to peddle their wares. While they said modern irrigation systems enabled them to continue growing produce — despite drought conditions — high temperatures are keeping potential customers indoors.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Leah Pullen takes a break at a construction site Wednesday in Decatur. Area residents have been urged to find ways to stay cool during this month’s record heat.
“Sales have been off everywhere,” said William Burks, a Cullman County grower who frequents farmers markets across the state.
Record high temperatures across the state this week prompted responses from various state and local agencies.
On Tuesday, Gov. Bob Riley requested that two-year colleges, senior centers and churches open heat-relief centers for those who can’t afford air conditioning.
That left workers with the Morgan County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster scrambling Wednesday to establish a list of shelters for local seniors and others to spend the hottest parts of the day.
As of Wednesday afternoon, five Decatur churches had opened their doors.
Morgan County Emergency Management Agency Director Eddie Hicks said senior centers across the county are also staying open later to accommodate those in need of a place to cool down, but exact hours were not available.
While Calhoun Community College did open a heat-relief center Wednesday, no one showed up, according to a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross.
“The sad part about it is you are going to have some people out there who have air conditioning, but they’re not going to turn it on because they don’t want to run the power bill up,” Hicks said.
Calvary Assembly of God
1413 Glenn St. S.W.
Monday — Thursday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to noon.
Calvary Assembly Dream Center
312 Eighth St. S.W.
Monday — Thursday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Central United Methodist Church
618 Jackson St. S.E.
Wednesday — Friday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Emmanuel Church International
1123 Central Parkway S.W.
Wednesday — Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Central Baptist Church
1700 Grant St.
Wednesday — Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 2-1-1.
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