Residents seek relief from heat as temps hit 100
Published 12:21 pm, Friday, July 16, 2010
For Tim Fox, Tuesday was a three handkerchief day. When the weather is warm, just one to wipe off the perspiration is adequate. It's only when the temperature tops 100 degrees with stifling humidity that three are needed.
"You can be here stark naked and watering the plants and it'll still be too hot," said Fox, who is a horticulturist at Daybreak Nursery on Main Street. He spends most of his time outside, but occasionally heads into the building for a quick blast of air conditioning. Due to the nature of his work, that method of cooling down can't be relied upon.
"When you're busy, you can't stop with a customer and say, `Wait a minute,'" Fox said, wiping his face with a red handkerchief.
A week of incredible heat reached an apex on Tuesday, and while the temperature is expected to drop in the coming days, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service said the humidity will linger. A high pressure system is stuck above the northeast states, causing air to grow stagnant and heat up without filtrating elsewhere.
There has been a steady breeze in Westport, but nothing substantial enough to lower the temperature significantly.
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for all of Connecticut, and the state Department of Environmental Protection issued an air quality advisory. With little help from nature expected, Gov. M. Jodi Rell called upon municipalities to provide relief.
"The dangerous combination of temperatures in the 90s and excessive high humidity will make it actually feel like 100 degrees or more. This can be a tremendously dangerous situation for senior citizens, young children and those who must work outside," Rell said in a press release.
The town's official cooling center on Tuesday was the Westport Center for Senior Activities, which remained open until 7:30 p.m. rather than the typical 4:30 p.m. closing time. First Selectmen Gordon Joseloff announced this morning that the senior center will remain open until 7 p.m. tonight as a cooling center for residents. The decision to keep the center open again will be made on a daily basis, according to town officials.
Other options were also available on Tuesday, like the library, which showed a World Cup semi-final match so that soccer fans could escape the heat.
Although Connecticut Light & Power, the utility company that serves Westport, cannot track real-time and town-specific electricity consumption data, all indications point to "very high demand" all throughout Connecticut as people cranked up the air conditioning. Power outages were reported throughout Fairfield County on Tuesday, and into today as well.
"Everybody is back from the Independence Day weekend and it all combines for a high demand not just for CL&P, but all the utilities," said CL&P spokesperson Mitch Gross.
For approximately 50 fledgling sailors at Longshore Sailing School, the weather coincided with Tuesday's lessons on what to do when a boat capsizes.
"The students are going to be spending as much time in the water as possible," said Gene D'Alessandro, operations manager for the school. "It's a great day for it. There is a nice breeze on the water, which is probably better than being on land."
The idea to teach capsizing on Tuesday didn't come because of the heat, according to D'Alessandro. It just happened to coincide that way. That morning, he gave instructors a brief lesson on ensuring that the students are hydrated and healthy.
Back at Daybreak Nursery, Fox was standing in a small room full of bags of plant seed and grass food. He recalled a day in the mid-90s when the temperature peaked at about 106 degrees, which caused him to take extreme measures for work.
"I actually wore short pants [that day]," he said. "I never wear short pants."
On Tuesday, the temperature peaked at about 102 degrees. Still, it wasn't hot enough for Fox to don a pair of shorts. He wore pants to work.