Heat reaches dangerous levels

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2005

Icy the Snowman’s life in the tropics was short-lived.

No doubt, the 6-foot snowman, made with nearly 5,000 pounds of crushed ice, enjoyed his moment in the sun outside Holiday Ice Co. in Wilroy Industrial Park.

But he did exactly what most people around Suffolk did Wednesday: melted.

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The city experienced another scorcher on Wednesday, with searing heat and high humidity that neared record-breaking levels.

Temperatures got up to around 100 degrees, slightly shy of the 1940 record of 102, said James Foster, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Wakefield office.

But it felt much hotter, said Capt. James T. Judkins, the city’s emergency services coordinator.

The heat index, determined by a formula using temperature and humidity, maxed out at 125 degrees.

&uot;Today is the hottest day of the year, both in terms of temperature and heat index,&uot; Judkins said late Wednesday.

The high heat index in parts of Virginia, as well as several other southern states, prompted the National Weather Service to issue an &uot;excessive heat warning&uot; that ended at 9 p.m. last night.

Beginning today, the region should get some long-awaited relief, thanks to a cold front that is slowly pushing its way through Hampton Roads, Foster said. The front will bring cooler temperatures, rain and thunderstorms through scattered parts of the area for the next several days.

Temperatures should hover in the mid-80s, significantly lower than usual for this time of year, through Monday, he added.

Across the country, the heat wave has had devastating effects. It is being blamed for at least 28 deaths in the Phoenix area, most of them homeless people, along with at least four in Missouri, two young children left in hot cars in Oklahoma, and one each in Kentucky, Ohio and Mississippi.

There haven’t been any heat-related deaths in Virginia or North Carolina.

In Suffolk, emergency workers have not seen a significant increase in calls, Judkins said. But a lot of medical conditions, particularly heart and respiratory conditions, are aggravated by extreme heat, he added.

&uot;People seem to be taking the necessary precautions and staying hydrated,&uot; Judkins said. &uot;People do need to be careful in this kind of weather.

&uot;The one who are most susceptible are the very young and the very old.&uot;