Summer arrives early

Published 10:36 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The calendar says summer has yet to officially arrive.

The thermometer begs to differ.

A late spring heat wave has northeastern North Carolina and southside Virginia in its grip and the immediate short-term forecast doesn’t show any sign of relief.

Early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Va. placed the entire Roanoke-Chowan area under a Hazardous Weather Outlook. Air temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s along with moderate humidity levels will result in heat index values approaching 100 degrees through Friday.

Highs on Wednesday are expected to top out at 94 degrees under mostly sunny skies. It gets even hotter on Thursday where the high temp is forecasted at 97 degrees.

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms may bring some relief from the heat on Friday. Daytime highs will be in the lower 90’s. If the showers/storms do arrive as expected Friday night, they will take the edge off Saturday’s high temperature, forecasted in the upper 80’s.

The long-range forecast for Sunday through early next week calls for highs in the mid-to-upper 80’s.

To help offset the impact heat can have on the human body, the North Carolina Division of Public Health recommends the following:

Drinking plenty of water or juice to avoid dehydration is one of the most important ways to prevent heat-related illness.  Health experts also recommend limiting time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the sun and temperatures are at their peak.   People of all ages also should:

Be careful about exercising or doing a lot of activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water or juice often, even before you are thirsty, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Dress for the weather. Loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes are cooler than dark colors or some synthetics.

If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air conditioned place like a shopping mall, a store, the library, a friend’s house, or the movies. Cool showers can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees – it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.

Never leave a child or a disabled or elderly person or a pet in an unattended car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels in as little as ten minutes.

Individuals who work outdoors and in some indoor settings may be at higher risk for heat-related illness. Especially vulnerable worker-groups include those employed in construction, agriculture, and certain manufacturing sectors. The N.C. Division of Public Health has produced a fact sheet for workers and employers with tips on preventing illness that is available to download at