Summer is heating up

Aliyha Smith, 2, of Edinburg, cranks the wheel alongside a water feature at W.O. Riley Park in Woodstock recently. High humidity and triple-digit temperatures will make water features and swimming pools popular places this week as people seek relief from the heat. Rich Cooley/Daily

Meteorologists are forecasting high temperatures and humidity for the next few days into the weekend.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid- to upper-90s, especially toward the end of the week, said Kevin Whitt, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sterling.

The heat alone can pose health risks but the high temperatures also create the potential for severe storms.

“With that heat, given the time of year, occasional afternoon thunderstorms may pop up,” Whitt said. “The chance for a couple of stronger storms isn’t out of the question with the temperatures we’re expecting. Late Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well have the best chances for bigger storms.”

Whitt explained the meteorological reasons for the high temperatures.

“We have an area of high pressure either over us or the main access of the high pressure is to our west,” he said. “When you have high pressure, air sinks. When air sinks, there’s very little cloud cover, so the temperatures soar because of all the sunshine throughout the day.”

Also contributing to the overall unpleasantness expected over the next few days is humidity. Humidity is gauged by dew point temperature, said Whitt. Dew point temperature cannot exceed the actual temperature, so the closer together the two are, the stickier the air around us feels.

The dew point temperature for the next couple days is expected to be in the low- to mid-70s. Relative to the temperature, said Whitt, those dew point temperatures will make for muggy conditions with storms possible every day.

Other weather-related issues include the proper care of those who cannot speak for themselves. Every summer, children and pets die after being left in hot vehicles.

Gary Yew, chief of Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue, said that temperatures don’t necessarily have to be extreme to pose a risk to those in cars.

“Even on what we would consider a comfortable day, the interior of a car can heat up rapidly and get unhealthy,” he said. “It’s just being conscious of summer sun. Things can heat up pretty rapidly, especially when we’re in weather like we are right now. If you could avoid it, I wouldn’t even take a pet with me if you would need to leave it in the vehicle. If you’ve got the option, I’d just leave the pet at home.”

According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ website, on a 78-degree day the temperature in a parked car can reach 100 to 120 degrees. On a 90-degree day, several of which are on the horizon for the valley, a car’s interior temperature can reach as high as 160 degrees in 10 minutes.

Heat stroke is another potential health risk created by high temperatures, said Yew.

“Some of the symptoms of heat stroke can be skin redness, flush-looking skin, dry skin and not sweating because you’re not staying hydrated,” he said. “The person can also be kind of lethargic.”

Yew said that landscapers and agricultural workers are well prepared for extreme heat. The elderly and young children, however, are at the greatest risk.

“Most of those folks that routinely work outside have gotten pretty good at mitigating the effects of the heat,” Yew said. “They’re conscience enough to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks… Young children and the elderly are more sensitive and likely to be affected by high heat than others in the population.”

Yew said that someone suspected of having heat stroke should seek a cool area– air conditioned if possible or at least in the shade if not, and call 911 immediately. Yew added that heat stroke can be fatal if untreated or unrecognized.

Yew also explained that while Shenandoah County has never had to establish any, cooling centers may be considered if significant issues arise.

“We could use one of the school facilities, perhaps a church,” he said. “It would be a place for people that may not have air conditioning in their homes. It’s a place we can bring them and keep them comfortable until the weather changes.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com