High temperature breaks 100 record

Published 11:43 am Friday, August 5, 2011

It’s Mississippi and it’s summer, and it’s even hotter than usual.

Thursday’s temperature in Vicksburg topped out at 101, breaking by one degree the record for Aug. 4, set last year. It also was 6 degrees higher than was recorded in Vicksburg 20 years ago, in 1991.

The intense heat combined with the South’s traditional high humidity have forced the National Weather Service to issue heat advisories and warnings telling people to stay indoors as much as possible.

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Today’s temperature is forecast to reach 98, which, combined with 79 pecent humidity, is forecast to produce a heat index of 110 to 116 degrees, and the NWS forecast for the weekend indicates no letting up.

The mercury is expected to climb to 99 Saturday, with a heat index of 108, and 98 on Sunday, with an index of 113.

The heat has led to advisories by government officials about the danger of heat-related illness — and warnings not to leave children or pets in parked cars even for short times.

Greg Flynn of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said it is important that people not underestimate the weather while doing everyday things such as mowing the grass or jogging.

“Don’t think, ‘I can handle it, I’ve been through this before.’ It can hit you fast, and it will hit you hard,” he said.

Debra Boswell of the Mississippi Animal Rescue League said pets also are in danger when left outside with no shade, or in the bed of a moving pickup.

“They need to be inside during the heat of the day, even animals that are used to being outside,” she said, adding cool, fresh water every day is imperative to pets in the current heat.

Entergy officials said the hot weather is affecting operations. About 2,500 customers lost power in Ridgeland for a couple of hours Wednesday because of weather-related demands on equipment, company spokeswoman Mara Hartmann said.

“We are experiencing heavy demand loads due to increased usage and those correlate to the hottest parts of the day,” Hartmann said. “The increased demand on equipment makes the system more vulnerable to equipment failures and outages. We’re concerned about that and are closely monitoring equipment systems and usage very closely.”

Liz Sharlot, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Health, said Thursday that the state has had eight deaths from heat exposure since May, compared to 13 for the same period last year.