Humidity drives heat past 100 mark

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 19, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

As Friday’s late afternoon hours rolled past, Amos Hedgepeth tipped his small straw hat, took a sip of ice water from a Pepsi cup, and watched his city deal with the heat.

&uot;I’m mostly an outdoors person,&uot; said Hedgepeth. &uot;Once the day breaks I go out, and once the sun goes down I go in. I just move from one shady spot to the next.&uot;

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Those spots weren’t always easy to find Friday as the combination of 90-degree temperatures and high humidity pushed the heat index level to nearly 105. Hedgepeth and his friend Thomas Roberts relaxed on the back of a pickup truck.

&uot;I prefer natural air,&uot; Hedgepeth said. &uot;I’m not used to air conditioning. When you’re 61 like I am, everything’s OK.&uot;

&uot;I just like messing around outside,&uot; said Roberts. &uot;You have to be outside, because something’s always happening around Suffolk!&uot;

That wasn’t the case at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, where even the animals were &uot;hunkered down in the shade&uot; because of extreme heat, said Cynthia L. Lane, the Swamp’s Deputy Refuge manager.

&uot;Our folks out here are not having any fun out here today,&uot; said Lane. &uot;It’s hard on them in this heat and right now they are doing equipment maintenance. Working on the large machines makes it even hotter since the metal reflects the heat.&uot; Fortunately, the bears, bobcats, deer, birds and other creatures at the wildlife refuge had plenty of drinking water; the 3,000-acre Lake Drummond is full at this time of year.

There were some who reveled in the hotness. &uot;It didn’t bother me,&uot; said Ruth Leggett, a driver for Beamon and Johnson Paint. &uot;I used to work in a marina, so I like the heat. When it gets cold, I’ll complain.&uot;

Not all of her co-workers felt that way, she continued. Last week, one of her fellow drivers fainted because of the heat. &uot;Everyone deals with it the same way,&uot; Leggett said. &uot;That’s for sure. Some people should just go home and go to bed!&uot;

The National Weather Service In Wakefield issued a heat advisory warning for the following areas:

Virginia: Brunswick, Chesapeake, Dinwiddie, Greensville, Isle Of Wight, Norfolk/Portsmouth, Prince George, Southampton, Suffolk, Surry, Sussex, and Virginia Beach.

North Carolina: Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Gates, Hertford, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, and Western Currituck.

For those who plan or have to be outside, avoid prolonged exposure to the heat and strenuous physical activity; the body can lose up to a gallon of water per hour through perspiration. Drink plenty of water; alcohol and caffeinated beverages can increase the rate of water loss. Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing. Wear a hat to shield the sun.

Children, the elderly and those with chronic illnesses are usually the first to suffer from the heat, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Be sure to periodically check on those who are most at risk.