Fayette County

Heat wave brings near-record temperatures Wednesday, health risks

Tim Blackwell from Clay City wiped sweat off his face while working construction on Main Street in Lexington. Temperatures in the 90s are expected to continue through Thursday.
Tim Blackwell from Clay City wiped sweat off his face while working construction on Main Street in Lexington. Temperatures in the 90s are expected to continue through Thursday.

Afternoon temperatures in Lexington could tie the record of 95 degrees Wednesday, prompting the National Weather Service in Louisville to warn of heat exhaustion, stroke or other health problems.

The weather service expects afternoon highs of 94 degrees Wednesday, but forecasts generally have a margin of error of one to two degrees, according to the weather service.

"If we hit 95, we'll tie the record," hydrologist Mike Callahan said.

Temperatures were expected to reach 93 Tuesday, but the day's high was 91 degrees, the weather service said.

The record for June 7 was set in 1933, and the record for June 8 was set in 1953. Normal temperatures for this time of year are in the low 80s.

Even if the temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday don't tie record highs, it could feel like it.

High humidities are likely to bring the heat index into the mid-90s even if the temperatures don't quite make it, said meteorologist Ryan Sharp.

The near-record heat follows a near-record period of rainfall. At the end of May, 2011 in Lexington had tied 1950 as the year with the highest amount of rainfall on record at about 32 inches. Much of that rain — 12.7 inches — fell during a record-breaking April.

Since May 31, rain has been sparse, leading 2011 to fall away from the yearly record set in 1950, Callahan said.

Callahan warned that abnormally high heat could cause an increase in heat-related injuries, a sentiment echoed by the Lexington Division of Fire in a public-safety announcement.

Heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke and death, typically occurs when a person is exercising or working in the heat, according to the announcement from the fire department. Symptoms include cool, pale or flushed skin, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and exhaustion.

The fire department confirmed two ambulance runs Tuesday that were heat-related. There were several more "sick calls" that might have been heat-related, said fire department spokesman Marshall Griggs.

The fire department told residents to take precautions, including dressing in light clothing, drinking plenty of water, avoiding dehydrating beverages such as those with alcohol and caffeine, avoiding strenuous activities during the hottest parts of the day, and staying inside when possible.

Residents should also check on elderly neighbors and relatives, especially those without air conditioners.

And don't leave children in the car "even for a minute," the announcement said.

"Forty-nine children died last year in the United States from being left unattended. Don't let your child be one of them," it said.

Temperatures in the 90s are expected to continue through Thursday, with readings expected to drop to the low 90s by Thursday. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, temperatures should be in the mid 80s, with possible thunderstorms and showers.

"It looks like we are going to get a break this weekend from both the heat and the drought conditions," Callahan said Tuesday. "Once we get through today and tomorrow, things will start cooling down a little bit."

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