By Jessie Burchette
How hot is it?
It’s so hot most folks don’t want to talk about it.
It was 101.3 degrees in Salisbury on Wednesday afternoon, according to the temperature gauge at Fire Station No. 3 on West Innes Street.
And Mother Nature is turning up the temperature as much of the Southeast continues to bake. Forecasters are calling for more sizzling hot temperatures today and Friday, with a possible break on Saturday, when the high is predicted to reach only 88 degrees.
“It’s bad,” said John Thomason, road maintenance supervisor with the Rowan district of the N.C. Department of Transportation. Crews are starting early, working from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., trying to avoid the worst of the heat.
Crews are working on asphalt and in ditches in the 100-degree temperatures, Thomason said. “It’s pretty sad, we’re trying to encourage the guys to drink fluids, to take care of themselves.”
Add in the near-drought conditions and some crews find themselves creating huge dust clouds as they work on road shoulders and ditches. But they’re not letting the heat beat them.
“So far we’re holding up pretty good,” Thomason said. He added, though, that “We’re ready for a break. We’re ready for rain.”
China Grove police spent most of Tuesday on the asphalt directing traffic at one of the town’s busiest intersections. A tractor-trailer pulled down a large phone line, forcing police to reroute traffic for hours.
“It was about 150 degrees,” Police Chief Hodge Coffield said, exaggerating just a bit.
“Thank goodness for the Kangaroo,” he said. Staff at the convenience store supplied officers with lots of water.
Granite Quarry Police had a similar experience Wednesday, dealing with the heat and traffic.
“When you get out of the patrol car and step on the asphalt, it will take your breath away,” Sgt. R.T. Taylor said.
The heat wave and code orange ozone is particularly bad news for people with chronic respiratory problems.
“The weather complicates everything,” said Beth Connell, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services.
Keeping the paramedics cool and the ambulances cool is another issue.
“It’s very hard to cool when it’s hot,” Connell said. “After all, its a big metal box. It can get quite hot in the back of an ambulance.”
Paramedics have switched to a lighter-weight T-shirt.
Some public officials likely wished they were wearing T-shirts at meetings when the air conditioners faltered or failed.
An hour or so into the four-hour meeting of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners Monday night, one of the air conditioning units died. Chairman Arnold Chamberlain quickly shed his jacket and called several breaks for the board and audience.
Tuesday evening, China Grove aldermen moved their meeting to the refurbished Community Memorial Building to accommodate a large crowd. With new windows and new paint, the building looked much better. But the air conditioner wasn’t ready for the crowd or the hot air.
After nearly three hours, Alderman Harold Simpson asked if the town couldn’t find some money, somewhere, to buy a new air conditioner. He reminded the board that a lot of senior citizens use the facility for a lunch program.
It’s not only the heat, but the lack of rain that has farmers in a vise grip.
“We have to have moisture,” said Joe Hampton, superintendent of the Piedmont Research Station on Sherrills Ford Road. “The high temperature is exaggerating the fact we aren’t getting any moisture.”
The thermometer hit 100 at the Research Station on Wednesday. That was enough to have Hampton dreaming of the years he spent at the Laurel Springs research station. “This is miserable weather,” he said.
Farmers watching their silage corn dry up are having to harvest it 10 days to two weeks early.
It’s also getting critical for crops in the field. “We’re not used to this kind of heat,” Hampton said.
Livestock are doing the best they can. Hampton said most cattle reduce their food intake, which cuts their body temperature. That also reduces the milk output of dairy herds.
Hampton’s advice for farm workers also fits anyone else working outside in the heat: “Drink water, take frequent breaks, stay hydrated.”
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254 or email@example.com.
By Jessie Burchette