Cooling centers to open in Northampton as heat wave hits

  • Meg Bernstein, of Los Angeles, and Zeina Dejani, of Palestine, swim across the Deerfield River at Sunburn Beach. With temperatures expected to rise close to 100 degrees over the weekend, it might be a good time to take a splash. Recorder File Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writers
Friday, June 29, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — An extended heat wave is expected to begin this weekend in the Pioneer Valley as 90-degree temperatures are forecast for at least the next week.

“Today is the primer day and then it gets really hot,” said Lenore Correia, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Norton, on Friday morning.

The temperature, which topped 90 degrees in the Pioneer Valley Friday, will creep into the lower 90s Saturday and then approach 100 degrees on Sunday.

“Sunday is supposed to be the hottest day,” Correia said.

Correia said the humidity will also rise Sunday, with significant dew likely to be noticeable on the grass that morning.

She isn’t anticipating any records, noting that temperatures will likely fall short of record highs each day, and that prolonged heat waves have occurred in the past. Still, Correia recommends that people limit their time outside, do activities in the morning and “drink lots and lots of water.”

Cooling centers in Northampton

In response to the predicted high temperatures, Northampton is opening cooling centers in the city on Friday. These centers will be open to all members of the public.

“We’ve been monitoring the weather forecast long-term,” said Mayor David Narkewicz.

Saturday, the open centers will be Forbes Library from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Lilly Library from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, the open centers will be the Senior Center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Lilly Library from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For both Monday and Tuesday the open centers will be the Senior Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Lilly Library from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Wednesday, the open center will be the Police Department lobby from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Forbes Library is located on 20 West St., Lilly Library is located on 19 Meadow St., the Senior Center is located on 67 Conz St. and the Police Department is located on 29 Center St.

Narkewicz said that the centers are primarily meant for people without access to air conditioning, and that the centers will be staffed.

In addition to noting the presence of other public air conditioned places in a press release, the city also gave a series of tips, including avoiding strenuous activity, drinking lots of water, staying on your lowest floor out of the sun if you don’t have air conditioning, and covering windows that receive morning and afternoon sun.

Senior Center Director Marie Westburg, when asked about the risk of heat to the senior population, said that heat exhaustion is a danger. She said that water will be on hand at the Senior Center’s cooling center. She also said that seniors that cannot get to the center can call 587-7979 for transportation.

“We’ll do our best to try to get people here,” she said, noting that while the transportation is for seniors, the cooling center will be open to all.

Westburg said that she believes this is the first time the center has been used as a cooling station, but suspects more of this may come with climate change.

Amherst and Easthampton response

Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman said officials discussed whether there would be a need for a dedicated cooling center, and decided against having one based on previous experience. He observed that the Senior Center and public safety officials have a list of potentially vulnerable residents who will be contacted regularly during the course of the hot weather.

In addition to the Bangs Community Center, where the public can drop in during its open hours, the Jones Library and its branches will be available.

In Easthampton the Public Safety Complex at 32 Payson Ave. will have a room available for anyone seeking relief from the high temperatures.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.