More misery expected Tuesday after heat index hits 112 in Lexington

jkegley@herald-leader.comJuly 12, 2011 

Firefighter John Davis, 49, of the Lexington Fire Department applied a warning sticker to a Lexington fire truck at Central Fire Station on East Third Street last summer. The sticker was part of a campaign to prevent heat deaths.

HANNAH POTES | STAFF FILE PHOTO

Heat advisories were issued for Central and Eastern Kentucky Tuesday as unusually hot heat indexes persisted, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures were expected to hit the mid-90s, but the heat index was expected to make it feel like 104 degrees or higher in the central and eastern parts of the state, according to the weather service. The western part of the state was under an excessive heat warning. The heat advisories were in effect until 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., depending on the region.

Scattered showers and thunderstorms could help cool things down late Tuesday afternoon, meteorologist Mike Crow said.

After Tuesday, highs are expected to stay in the mid-80s with periodic rain through the rest of the week. The average daily high temperatures in July for Central Kentucky are in the mid-80s.

Tuesday's excessive heat followed a Monday in Lexington that exceeded expectations to hit 112 degrees.

The temperature in Lexington reached 94 degrees Monday, and a muggy air mass caused it to feel nearly 20 degrees hotter, Crow said. The heat index is "a combination of temperature and humidity that gives us an apparent 'feels-like' temperature," he said.

Lexington's record high temperature for July 11 was 104 degrees, set in 1936. It's not clear what it felt like that day; the weather service does not keep statistics of heat indices.

"We don't typically list heat indexes unless they are expected to exceed the warning criteria," Crow said.

The weather service issued a news release Monday warning people to wear light clothing, drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating foods such as protein, salt and alcohol during periods of high heat.

In an effort to avoid preventable heat-related injuries, Lexington firefighters began placing decals on fire trucks and ambulances as part of the "Not Even for a Minute" campaign. The decals, which also are placed on cars when the fire department helps install child seats, are intended to remind people not to leave children alone in cars.

For the previous six years, at least one child a year has died from being left in a hot car in Kentucky. There hasn't yet been a hot-car death reported to the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services in 2011, said Jim Grace, assistant director of Protection and Permanency.

The central part of the U.S. has been hammered by intense heat earlier than usual.

Wichita Falls, Texas, broke 100 degrees for the 20th straight day Monday. The city got a break on June 21, when the temperature reached only 98, but before that, Wichita Falls had had 19 consecutive days of 100-degree heat.

Meteorologists attributed the high temperatures in the Midwest to a high-pressure pattern that had stubbornly stayed over much of the country's midsection, making it difficult for cooler air from the north to break through. A continuing drought affecting a swath of the interior of the country also is to blame, they said.

"It's not uncommon to get above 100 for a few days in a row, but this is different," said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, Kan.

Herald-Leader reporter Karla Ward and the New York Times News Service contributed to this report.

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