TERRE HAUTE —
The Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff of summer, and this weekend is expected to be a scorcher with consecutive days of temperatures in the low to mid-90s.
Terre Haute’s forecast for today is a high of 93 degrees, and Sunday’s high is forecast at 96 degrees, said Crystal Pettet, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Both temperatures would break a 50-year high of 92 degrees for those days in Terre Haute, Pettet said.
The weather service on Friday issued a heat advisory from noon today until 8 p.m. Sunday. The heat index is expected to be in the mid-90s today and in the upper 90s to 100 for Sunday in Terre Haute. A heat index is how hot it feels when relative humidity is combined with actual air temperature.
At Indianapolis, where the Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to take place, temperatures are expected to reach 92 degrees today and 95 on race day. The record highs for those days in Indianapolis are 94.
Reaching 90 degrees on consecutive days during May is relatively rare, occurring only 18 times since weather records began in Indianapolis in 1871, the weather service reports. Last year produced two consecutive days of at least 90 degrees on May 30 and 31.
Temperatures reaching 90 degrees at least once during May happens on average about once every two years, according to the NWS.
The high temperature means people exercising, working or just staying outdoors should use common sense, said John Bolinger, an internist and vice president of medical affairs at Union Hospital.
“The best thing is prevention. Try to drink more fluids and avoid alcoholic drinks and drinks with large amounts of sugar, which can cause a diuretic effect” causing a person to lose water, Bolinger said.
Drinking water or sports drinks is best during the hottest part of the day.
Bolinger suggests not drinking very, very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramping.
“If you can, stay indoors in air conditioning. If you don’t have air conditioning, find a cool place. Go to a mall or a library” or some public facility, Bolinger said. “A cool shower or bath, if you really feel that you are overheating, is a good way to cool off quickly.”
Persons planning to be in direct sun, such as boating or working in the outdoors, should wear light-colored clothing, sunscreen and wear wide-brimmed hats or even use an umbrella to provide shade.
Exercising should be done in the early morning, Bolinger said, or heavy exercising might be avoided on days with high temperatures,
“From a medical standpoint, people at highest risk of developing heat-related illness or heat stroke are infants and very young children and persons 65 and older,” he said. “People with mental illness are at highest risk because of some medications” which can cause them to overheat, Bolinger said.
“People on blood pressure medicines, people with heart disease or those on diuretic medications can dehydrate quicker, and certain antibiotics can make you more susceptible to sunburn and sun rash,” Bolinger said.
Bolinger suggests looking at the heat index as a guide — an index of 104 to 125 is very dangerous and index of 126 or higher is extremely dangerous.
Charles Toth, business manager for Laborers International Union of North America, said laborers are familiar with dealing with summer heat.
“You always wear a cap and sunglasses and drink lots of water. If you start to get dizzy or not thinking clearly, you sit down, put a cold handkerchief on your neck and on the inside of your wrist,” Toth said.
“This is common for us. We do this all the time,” Toth said of outdoor workers.
Trees can also be impacted by the heat, said Terre Haute City Forester Sheryle Dell.
“Big and small trees are being impacted by the heat,” Dell said, with no rain and dry ground. “We are having winds that dry out the trees and makes them use up more water than they normally would, plus the days are longer. Trees are in an extreme demand for water,” she said.
Trees, especially new and young trees, should receive 2.5 gallons of water per caliber inch, at least two times a week. Watering should be done early in the morning. Water should be done slowly, called deep watering, allowing the tree to take in the water, Dell added.
Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at (812) 231-4204 or howard.greninger@