Heat may be normal, but it’s still brutal

PAT FRIDGEN
The temperature recorded at Carl's Drug Store on Wednesday July 7, was a little higher than that of weather observer Robert Wertime, who logged 100 degrees in his books. Wertime attributed the difference to a heat island created when a thermometer is near paved surfaces such as concrete, macadam or brick. The manmade materials absorb and retain heat. The effect on a broader scale means that large cities tend to be warmer than rural areas, though they are exposed to the same weather conditions.

Greencastle weather observer Robert Wertime verified what everyone knows; it has been hot. However, the peak of 100 degrees on July 7 was not a record, and actually followed a typical pattern.

"Deep cold is often followed by extraordinary heat," he said. "Remember the winter of 2010?”

The area's first recorded 90-degree temperature was April 6. Memorial Day weekend was extremely warm. Since June 22, Greencastle recorded 11 days in the 90s and one that tipped into three digits. That makes 17 days of 90 degree weather or higher this year.

"This is normal, a repeat pattern from the 1960s, 1930s and earlier," Wertime said. "We've seen it all before."

The lack of rain which accompanied the heat meant no relief for residents, gardens or crops. The first half of the year finished nearly four inches below normal for precipitation, with a running total of 16.72 inches. The last real rain came the few days beginning June 9, accumulating 1.07 inches. The early morning hours of July 10 brought another .18 inch.

"We are in a moderate drought situation," Wertime confirmed, though counties to the east and west received significant downfalls recently.

He predicted corn growth would be stunted but soybeans could yet rebound.

Heat affects animals

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding issued a press release stating pets and farm animals could suffer from heat-related stress. He recommended farmers look for signs of stress in livestock that are outdoors during the hottest part of the day: bunching together, heavy panting, slobbering, lack of coordination and trembling.

“Because extremely high temperatures can be distressing for livestock and pets, it is critical that owners monitor their animals to ensure that those suffering effects from the heat can be quickly treated,” said Redding. “If your animals experience the symptoms listed or exhibit other unusual behaviors which could be related to heat stress, contact a veterinarian immediately.”

The ag department offered tips to help cows, horses, pigs, sheep and other animals deal with the heat. They included — provide shade and move animals to shaded pens if possible; provide water because consumption must go up as temperatures rise; if spraying animals with water to help them cool down, use a sprinkler that provides large droplets; avoid overworking livestock and postpone routine livestock management procedures such as vaccination, hoof trimming and dehorning until the weather cools; and avoid unnecessary transportation, but if cattle must be moved, try to do so in the late evening or early morning hours. In addition, it is important to have proper ventilation for animals kept indoors, and to have backup power generation systems in place should an electrical outage occur.

Dry grass

The heat wave can also put people at risk. Dave Hann, Rescue Hose Company assistant fire chief, announced that the RHC and Maugansville Fire Department extinguished a grass fire July 7 on South Young Road. It was believed to have started by arcing wires from a utility pole transformer, which ignited the grass between two mobile homes and spread toward other residences.

"This shows how dry and flammable even cut grass is, as we encourage all citizens to be extremely cautious with anything combustible," Hann stated.