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Weeklong heat wave not setting any records

left, Toby Moran sprays down a roof of a home off Day Ave.  in Northampton, while Karl Siebing gets ready to install solar panels.  The two work with Pioneer valley  Photo Voltaics. 

CAROL LOLLIS

left, Toby Moran sprays down a roof of a home off Day Ave. in Northampton, while Karl Siebing gets ready to install solar panels. The two work with Pioneer valley Photo Voltaics. CAROL LOLLIS Purchase photo reprints »

Although residents may feel like this week’s heat wave has been going on forever, the predicted seven-day streak is still short of setting records in the Connecticut River Valley.

Meteorologist William Babcock at the National Weather Service in Taunton said the heat wave will have lasted a full week as long as temperatures on Saturday hit 90 degrees, as they are predicted to. It will likely cool off later that afternoon when clouds, storms and showers come through, he said.

“But there have been longer heat waves before,” he said.

After looking through the National Weather Service’s records, Babcock said there have been eight heat waves that have lasted at least eight days since 1953, including a 10-day streak in 1995 and two nine-day heat waves in 1973 and 2002.

As the hot week wears on, more people have been coming to Amherst’s cooling center in the Bangs Community Center, said Nancy Pagano, director of the Senior Center housed there.

“We’ve had a lot today, more than yesterday,” she said Thursday afternoon. “We had a few people dozing on the couch.”

The center will be open again Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and a high of 94 degrees is forecast. “We have ice water and it’s nice and cool. I hope people will think to come if they’re suffering,” she said.

And some of them have been suffering. Northampton Deputy Fire Chief Jon Davine said firefighters and EMTs have responded to a few medical calls in the last few days related to the heat.

“The high humidity also affects smoke detectors, so there have been some false activations,” he said Thursday. And for any call about a suspected fire, the firefighters get into their full protective gear. “After 10 or 15 minutes in your gear, it gets pretty hot,” he said.

Babcock said there’s a good chance temperatures will hit 90 degrees Saturday, but a cold front moving in that night will break the heat wave and temperatures Sunday are expected to be in the low to mid-80s.

Meanwhile, the Holyoke company that controls the grid in the region again asked customers to try to reduce their electricity use between the hours of noon and 8 p.m. until the heat wave breaks to reduce the load on the grid. ISO New England spokeswoman Lacey Ryan said the grid is performing well, and people should only reduce their air conditioner use and take other measures if it will not affect their health or safety.

The company forecast Thursday’s energy use would be the highest of the week at 27,600 megawatts, but preliminary data showed usage reaching 26,881 at 2:45 p.m. “That’s mainly because temperatures in Boston were lower than were forecasted,” Ryan said.

The energy usage ranks eighth on the list of top energy use days. Topping the list at 28,130 megawatts is Aug. 2, 2006, the seventh day of an eight-day heat wave. Usage Friday is forecast at 27,700 megawatts.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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