High heat headed to Mid-Columbia

By Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldJuly 7, 2012 

— Mid-Columbia weather will turn sweltering as the temperature hits 100, and there's no relief in sight.

"I've been telling people to not expect temperatures much below 95 degrees anytime soon, at least through July 20," said Douglas Weber, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Pendleton. "We should be thankful we've had such a cool start to the summer."

Today, the National Weather Service is predicting a high of 97. The mercury will hover in the low 100s from Sunday through Tuesday.

"Not a record by any means -- that was 105 this time of year in 1967 -- but 100 is 100 if you ask me. It will still be toasty," Weber said.

Fire officials are bracing for the heat wave that's supposed to be accompanied Sunday by thunderstorms and lightning.

A fire weather watch was issued Friday by the National Weather Service, warning of "abundant lightning" expected Sunday through Tuesday.

Forecasters say increased moisture is moving into the area with the southerly flow that's bringing in the warmer temperatures.

Fire conditions are in the "very high" or "extreme" range, so multiple lightning strikes easily could start brush fires in the area.

While some might visit the Cascades or Western Washington for cooler weather, many Mid-Columbians will seek places with air conditioning.

Carleen Hanscom, recreation manager for the city of Pasco, suggests, "Go to the pool."

Whatever people do, keeping hydrated is critical.

"Drink plenty of fluids, said Sandy Owen, preventive health services director for the Benton-Franklin Health District. "Plain water is best. Juices and soft drinks have added sugar, so if you're watching calories that could be a problem,"

Avoid alcoholic beverages, which can lead to dehydration.

"If you do go outdoors, wear loose, lightweight clothing. And choose light-colored clothing. It'll help reflect the heat," she said. "Try to schedule any outside work during the cooler hours of the morning -- even evenings can be pretty hot."

Wear plenty of sunscreen with an sun protection factor of at least 30. It won't keep you cool, but it'll help avoid being sunburned. Apply it before leaving the house and reapply it several times during the day.

"Depending on your activities, if you get really sweaty or are in the water, it will wash off," Owen said. "Even the sports blends that say they resist rubbing or washing off will need to be reapplied."

If you do get overheated, find shade or an air-conditioned area and drink cool liquids. A cold shower, or a few passes through a sprinkler can help too.

Don't forget that pets also suffer during the summer.

As a rule, treat your pet as if it were a human. Make sure it has access to plenty of cool water and shade, said Ed Dawson, operations manager for the Benton Franklin Humane Society in Kennewick.

"Cats will usually find a cool spot for a nap and stay there, but owners need to restrict their dog's activities," Dawson said. "Leave Frisbee playing for mornings."

And protect your dog's paws. Concrete and asphalt get extremely hot, and so do the beds of pickups.

"In fact, it's best to leave your dog at home this time of year. Animal Control gets a lot of calls in the summer about dogs left in cars with the windows rolled up," Dawson said.

On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes -- even with the windows cracked open.

"Just imagine if it was you inside, cooking," Dawson said.

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