Heat warning extended as temperatures keep climbing
BY HANNAH KOHUT, MIKE NOLAN and SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY July 5, 2012 11:06AM
Joggers get their exercise in at Yankee Woods despite the heat July 5 in Oak Forest. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Southland cooling centers
(Partial list; hours vary)
Bloom Township, 425 S. Halsted St., Chicago Heights
Bremen Township, 15350 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Forest
Bremen Township, 16361 S. Kedzie Parkway, Markham
Calumet Township, 12633 S. Ashland Ave., Calumet Park
Chicago Heights City Hall, 1601 Chicago Road
Chicago Heights Public Library, 25 W. 15th St.
Chicago Ridge Senior Center, 10455 S. Ridgeland Ave.
Frankfort Administration Building, 432 W. Nebraska St.
Frankfort Township Building, 11000 W. Lincoln Highway, Frankfort
Homer Township Administration Building, 14350 W. 151st St., Homer Glen
Lemont Park District, 16020 W. 127th St.
Lemont Township, 16028 W. 127th St.
Lockport Central Square Building, 222 E. 9th St.
Manhattan Fire Station No. 1, 100 Park Road
Mokena Village Hall, 11004 Carpenter St.
Mokena Public Library, 11327 W. 195th St.
Mokena School District, 11244 Willowcrest Lane
Monee Village Hall, 5130 W. Court St.
Monee Police Station, 5357 Main St.
New Lenox Guy Sell Senior Housing Community Room, 1090 S. Cedar Road
New Lenox Police Station, 701 W. Haven Ave.
Oak Lawn Senior Center, 5330 W. 95th St.
Oak Lawn Library, 9427 S. Raymond Ave.
Oak Lawn Racquet Club, 10444 S. Central Ave.
Oak Lawn Community Pavilion, 9401 S. Oak Park Ave.
Orland Park Police Department, 15100 S. Ravinia Ave.
Orland Park Old Village Hall, 14500 S. Beacon Ave.
Orland Park Civic Center, 14800 S. Ravinia Ave.
Orland Township, 14807 S. Ravinia Ave., Orland Park
Palos Township, 10802 S. Roberts Road, Palos Hills
Park Forest Police Station, 200 Lakewood Blvd.
Park Forest Village Hall, 350 Victory Drive
Park Forest Library, 400 Lakewood Blvd.
Rich Township, 22013 Governors Highway, Richton Park
Steger Village Hall, 35 W. 34th St.
Steger Community Center, 3501 Hopkins
Stickney Township, 7745 S. Leamington Ave., Burbank
Thornton Township, 333 E. 162nd St., South Holland
Tinley Park Senior Community Center, 17355 S. 68th Court
Tinley Park Police Department, 7850 W. 183rd St.
Washington Township, 30200 Town Center Road, Beecher
Worth Township, 11601 S. Pulaski Road, Alsip
The state also has opened Illinois Department of Human Services offices and tollway oases as cooling centers during regular business hours.
Updated: August 7, 2012 6:21AM
The heat wave that has had the Chicago area in its grip this week is not letting up. Friday could be a record-breaking, above-100-degree day and relief may not come until Sunday, with Saturday also expected to reach a high near 100.
An excessive heat warning that has been in effect for all of northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana until 10 p.m. Friday has been extended to 4 p.m. Saturday for Cook, Lake, Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Lake (Ind.) counties, according to the National Weather Service. The warning is in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday for Will and Kankakee counties.
As of about 11 a.m. Friday the temperature at O’Hare International and Midway airports had reached 96 degrees, according to the weather service. The record high temperature for July 6 in Chicago is 99 degrees, set in 1988.
The high temperature Friday could reach between 99 and 103 degrees, according to the weather service. Temperatures will fall into the lower 90s in the afternoon along Lake Michigan.
“It’s likely to be similar to what the city experienced Thursday,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Friedlein. “But a breeze coming off the lake in the afternoon should be just enough to stop us hitting the all-time record” of 105.
If the weather service’s prediction of another 103-degree high proves correct, it will be only the third three-day heat wave of 100-degree weather since records began in the 19th century, and the first since 1947.
And if the 100 forecast for Saturday holds, it would mark the first time ever the city has seen four straight days of triple-digit temps.
The all-time heat record of 105 degrees was set on July 24, 1934, and was part of a hot spell that claimed the lives of hundreds of Chicagoans. But authorities said Thursday that lessons learnt from the more recent, infamous 1995 heat wave that killed more than 500 appear to be paying off this time.
The not-so-cold truth about the record-setting heat Thursday is that the Southland perhaps had bragging rights to the hottest of hot spots.
Take the 103-degree temperatures, add jalapeno peppers and broken air conditioning, and you’ve got Tony’s Mexican Restaurant in Midlothian, where customers were getting their food to go because they couldn’t take the heat sitting down.
“We are losing a lot of customers,” said owner Tony Barajas, who’s been embroiled in a dispute with the landlord over the AC unit.
Broiled rather than embroiled, hundreds of other Southlanders sought refuge at pools or just stayed indoors.
Many “nuts” braved the area’s golf courses, but Christ Medical Center spokesman Mike Maggio said most people must be heeding warnings about beating the heat “because we’re not seeing many in here.” As of Thursday afternoon, he said, only one patient had come in for heat exhaustion, and that was Wednesday.
Keeping the greens green
Excessive heat didn’t deter golfers from hitting the links Thursday at Silver Lake Country Club in Orland Park.
The thermometer was off the chart at 3 p.m., well beyond the 100 mark, leaving starter Jim
Koerner to believe it was “at least” 110 degrees.
He sat in the shade of a gazebo, with a bit of a breeze, and figured the 26 men who showed up for an afternoon league were “nuts.”
“We give them free water when the temperature is over 75,” Koerner said. He also sends a ranger out to check on players and makes beverage carts available along the course.
His advice to them: “Try to stay in the shade and take as much water as you can.”
Those playing were unfazed by the heat, claiming they played in hotter weather — like 118 degrees in Phoenix.
“We’re getting as much play as expected on both of the 18-hole courses,” assistant director of golf operations Jeff Carr said. “If it were a little cooler perhaps we’d be getting more play, but overall we’re having a really strong year.”
The country club has its own wells to keep the greens healthy in the searing heat, and Carr said the grounds department is watering early in the morning, then giving the greenery another light drink later in the afternoon.
At Dunne National near Oak Forest, Dave Lang, 60, of Mokena, hit one ball after another from the driving range.
“I love golf and need to practice,” he said. “I’ve played a full round of golf in heat this bad before. I would not play the course today, but I don’t like staying in all day.”
Bill O’Boyle, 73, of Homer Glen, also was at Dunne with a friend from Florida. They had just completed a full round.
“Right around hole 15, you start getting a little bit weak,” he said. “Pile on the water and you get a little revived, then you get weak again and drink more water. It’s really not that bad.”
Then again, he fought fires for 40 years for the city of Chicago.
Hot Mexican food in Midlothian
Inside Tony’s Mexican Restaurant, 4740 W. 147th St., it had to be at least 100 degrees, and customers were getting carry-out.
Barajas said he’s had a long-simmering dispute with the landlord of the strip mall. He opened in early January, and his lease requires that the landlord provide working heating and AC units, but that the tenant is responsible for their upkeep. Barajas said neither unit for his space has worked and believes they were broken before he opened the restaurant.
“I’ve told the owner since we moved in to fix the unit, but because I signed the lease I’m responsible for everything, according to him,” Barajas said.
Tiffany Plaza, at 147th Street and Cicero Avenue, is managed by JDJ Partners, and one of the firm’s partners, Dave Shewmake, said the restaurant had working cooling and heating units.
Shewmake said he and other JDJ employees have been in the restaurant and hadn’t noticed it was hot.
“He (Barajas) doesn’t want to pay for any repairs,” Shewmake said. “It’s not like it just turned hot today.”
An average summer day brings about 1,000 patrons to Tinley Park’s White Water Canyon Water Park, but since it opened for the season on June 2, there have been 22 days when attendance was more than 1,200, Tinley Park Park District facilities manager Karol Komar said.
June set an attendance record — with 35,838 folks keeping cool in the pool, compared to 26,000 last June, she said. More than 2,000 visited on Fourth of July.
“We’ve had as many as 2,500 this summer. If this keeps up, we will see some record numbers,” Komar said.
The heat wave sent many to the pools for the first time.
Mary Harris lived in Orland Park for 12 years, but never before had visited the aquatic center at Centennial Park.
“I’ve got company from California. I’m trying to show them a good time in the heat,” she said.
Chicagoans Audrey Von Bergen and Brent Smart decided to chill out at Orland Park’s pool before heading to the Iron Maiden concert at First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre.
“It’s our first time here. We’re excited,” Von Bergen said, explaining they found the aquatic center by Googling. They were armed with plenty of water and sunscreen.
“I don’t think there’s much more we can do,” Smart said.
“I didn’t want to leave. It’s so nice here,” Wendy Gavin said after spending three hours there. “When it gets to be in the 90s and 100s, this is my hangout.”
It was a day when investments in backyard pools paid off, too.
As Tracy Salardeau, 35, soaked up the sun, her son, Dean, 7, splashed in the pool in the yard of their Oak Forest home.
“Been out here about an hour, catching some sun and swimming a little bit,” Tracy said. “If you’re going in and out, it’s fine, and if you have water.
“I prefer this over the snow any day. Be grateful for it while we have it.”
Just before doing a cannonball dive, Dean said, “I’m not getting hot. The water is nice and cool.”
Boiling while toiling
Brianne Splitek, 22, of Midlothian, was drying cars at the Delta Sonic car wash in Crestwood. A shelter that might have provided shade is gone while remodeling work is done.
“I’ve been out here about 21/2 hours. It’s more so the heat of the engines of the car, so that makes it worse than it actually is,” she said. “They do check on us and give us water, so it’s not so bad. Lots of sunblock.”
Joe Richards, who owns Durable Roofing, in Midlothian, said he had a crew working up north.
“Only thing you can do is start early and get the most work done. We call it a day around 1 o’clock,” he said. “We supply water for all our men, and ice. You just have to pace yourself.”
Bill Bevan, of Oak Forest, said he delivers groceries on a downtown route, sometimes in high-rises.
“It’s just so hot with no air movement, especially in between some high-rises,” he said. “I had a few deliveries today where I had to walk up stairs. I would be a rich man if I had a dollar for every time someone asked me, ‘Is it hot enough for you?’
“It’s really bad when you get a truck that doesn’t have air conditioning, but thankfully mine had it today.”
While others were getting their fixes of fireworks or backyard barbecues on the Fourth of July — when the high temperature was “only” 102 — Robert Henning was fixing air conditioners.
A co-owner of Orland Park Heating & Air Conditioning in Homer Glen, Henning said he’s seen an increase in repair calls to fix units that have succumbed to the blazing heat, and responded to a handful of complaints on the holiday.
“The real hot weather is what kills a lot of motors,” particularly if the AC unit has seen more than a few summers, Henning said.
At Southwest Town Mechanical in Orland Park, which services AC systems for commercial and industrial businesses, the high temperatures have been a blessing, according to Lindsey Grilec, a sales representative.
“We had a mild winter” and fewer calls to repair heating systems, “so this is wonderful,” she said.
She said repair call volume has doubled as overworked cooling units seize up.
“With the amount of days that it’s been over 90 (degrees), that’s what does it,” she said.