Elgin area sweats through late-season blast of unseasonably hot temperatures
By Emily McFarlan Miller email@example.com September 10, 2013 12:54PM
Families cool off in the fountain Tuesday at Festival Park in Elgin. | Emily McFarlan Miller
Updated: October 12, 2013 6:19AM
ELGIN — The air in Festival Park Tuesday morning was thick with heat and the smell of chlorine as more than a dozen kids splashed through the fountains set in the concrete with their moms and caregivers, cooling off in the unseasonable heat.
The kids plunged their faces into the spray. They grabbed hands and raced through the biggest of the fountains at the center of the park, on South Grove Avenue near downtown.
Christine Bohne of Elgin even waded in and splashed off her arms and legs with the four kids she was watching. All were between the ages of 3 and 5, too little to go swimming at one of the public pools in the area, Bohne said. Plus, she said, the park is free.
“This was a godsend when they put this in — it really was,” she said.
Bohne wasn’t the only one thankful for a break from the heat Tuesday. Those temperatures reached the mid-90s here, nearing a record for this late in the year — as well as closing schools for some students and delaying trains for Metra riders throughout the Chicago area.
A heat dome baking the middle of the country sent the temperatures soaring well into the mid-90s across the Fox Valley and the rest of northern Illinois, according to the National Weather Service. But by the end of the week, more-seasonal temps in the 60s are expected to settle across the region, according to Richard Castro, a meteorologist with the weather service.
Temperatures in Elgin topped out at 94 degrees, according to weather.com, easily breaking the previous Sept. 10 record of 91 degrees for the city set in 2005.
The average temperature for Sept. 10 is 77 degrees.
The National Weather Service released a special weather statement just before 10:30 a.m. Tuesday for Kane and other nearby counties warning Chicago’s record high of 95 degrees for Sept. 10 might be surpassed that afternoon. And those kinds of heat conditions can cause extra stress on those prone to heat illness such as young children, the elderly and those who work outdoors or in hot buildings, it said.
Bonnie Stevens of Carpentersville said she mostly has been staying in air-conditioned buildings during the heat, but a weekly playgroup brought her out to Festival Park on Tuesday, holding 6-month-old Andrew in her lap on a bench set in the shade.
And Lulu Giron of Elgin has brought her two children and her niece to the park with her sister-in-law Melissa Blair a lot this summer, she said, although up to this week, the heat hadn’t been that bad.
It’s a good way to “get the kids tired and stay cool,” Blair said. They also have kiddie pools and Slip ’n Slides and make sprinkler runs at home.
And, Blair said, there’s “nothing like the good old hose.”
Metra issued a service alert on its website Tuesday morning, advising riders that trains could be delayed 10 to 15 minutes because of the heat. Trains operate at reduced speeds to compensate for heat-related stress to tracks and equipment, Metra said.
Many suburban schools also closed, and as many as 30 others planned shortened days due to the heat.
Elgin School District U46 cranked the air conditioning in its school buildings for the second straight day, according to spokesman Pat Mogge. All classrooms in the district are air-conditioned, Mogge said, although he declined to comment on hallways and other common areas.
Community Unit School District 300 spokeswoman Allison Strupeck said all of the schools in the Carpentersville-area district have air conditioning — that includes all classrooms and other areas, with the exception of bathrooms and hallways.
That worked well Tuesday, and no schools were dismissed early, Strupeck said. Some outdoor activities, however, were canceled, such as cross country meets at Carpentersville Middle School and Hampshire High School, as well as some physical education classes at Westfield Community school in Algonquin, she said.
“The health and well-being of our students remain our top priorities, and everything is going well in this regard,” she said.
Meantime, nearby Indian Prairie School District 204 in Aurora and Naperville canceled classes at 19 elementary schools and Indian Plains High School that are without air conditioning. Crete-Monee Schools (District 201-U) also closed all schools Tuesday.
Tuesday’s “saving grace” was that it was not as humid as Monday, Castro said, when temperatures hit 92 degrees in Elgin.
And as the week moves on, so will the scorching conditions. The weather this week will be the “tale of two seasons,” he said.
Wednesday will dip into the 80s, he said, to be followed by the 70s on Thursday and possibly the 60s on Friday.