Hot time, (early) summer in the suburbs: Thursday a record-breaking scorcher
By Mike Danahey email@example.com June 28, 2012 8:16PM
Carpentersville firefighter Eric Vogel (laying down) displays the day's sweltering heat after battling a five alarm fire Thursday at the Community Thrift Store in Carpentersville. June 28, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 30, 2012 6:23AM
Late Thursday morning as the temperature built toward 100 degrees, 4-year-old cousins Caden and Nolan Drabowski were busy playing ice hockey.
The two take part in the Bison Summer Hockey Camp, one of the offerings at the Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.
With the sweltering weather outside, Caden’s mom, Jennifer, was glad her son had taken to the wintry sport and was enjoying the cold comfort of the rink.
Caden also planned to play hockey that afternoon in the basement of his family’s home in Crystal Lake under the watchful eye of his dad, Todd. Meanwhile, Nolan’s mom Missy said running under the lawn sprinkler might be in order.
Such was life in the Fox Valley where following a record warm spring, a long, hot summer is taking shape.
By 3:45 p.m. the Weather Underground website had the temperature in Huntley posted at a blistering 101.5 degrees, and the official temperature at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport at that time was 100, coming close to the big city’s 101 degree record for June 29.
Things cooled off some just after 5 p.m. when a hailstorm followed by a thunderstorm moved quickly through Elgin.
Thursday was the 15th time this year in Northern Illinois that the thermometer had climbed to 90 or higher. The heat index in the region sizzled to more than 105 degrees. And it was the third day in a row the Illinois EPA deemed the air quality unhealthy for sensitive groups.
Prior to Thursday, during 140 years of weather record keeping, the Chicago area has had just 61 days at or above 100, according to the National Weather Service. The last one was July 24, 2005, when it reached 102. The all-time high for the city is 105, recorded on July 24, 1934.
In 1953, 1988 and 1995, it reached 104. And in 1901, 1956 and 1988, it reached 103, according to the weather service.
It rarely gets hotter in the metro area than Thursday.
Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste said the earliest the temperature had been 100 or above in this area was 102 on June 1, 1934 and the latest recorded 100 was on Sept. 7 in 1934 and 1960.
Sebenste noted that what contributed to the heat building Thursday was the lack of moisture in the ground.
“We’re about 7 inches below the average rainfall for this time of year,” he said.
Sebenste was finishing up a two-day move from Davis Hall on campus to the Monsanto Building on at Route 23 and Bethany Road on the northeast edge of DeKalb.
“We started at 7 this morning and are just about done,” Sebenste said before 10 a.m., when the temperature in DeKalb already had hit 88.
Still, people toiled in the sun. A drive through the Elgin area showed road construction crews working midday at the intersection of Route 72 and Randall Road; builders headed for a lunch break at the Shell gas station under construction in The Grove along Randall; an AT&T crew doing underground work along Randall near Sherman Hospital; and workers around 2 p.m. putting a coat of asphalt on a driveway along Barrington Avenue in East Dundee.
Pete Landorf, owner of the Dairy Queen in The Grove, said he has a jug of water by the door that draws the local crews who frequently stop for afternoon treats. The biggest sellers in really hot weather are shakes, smoothies and Orange Julius drinks, Landorf said.
Help for seniors
With such extreme conditions, Thursday morning and afternoon, Senior Services Associates case manager supervisor Roxanne Walston was overseeing her crew calling 30 people on a well-being checklist. If someone needed to beat the heat, they were reminded they could come to the Greater Elgin Senior Center in downtown Elgin or to the lobby of the police station. If someone needed a ride, the center could arrange one through the police department.
Over at police headquarters in downtown Elgin, which serves as the city’s cooling center, by 1 p.m. no one had stopped in to get out of the heat.
By that time fire department crews conducting drills at the vacant old Sherman Hospital on the city’s northeast side had called it quits for the day.
Elgin Fire Chief John Fahy said that the plan was to hold two sessions in the morning and end around noon should the 100-degree weather that had been in the forecast since last weekend occur, which it did.
The department codes days blue, yellow and red. At red non-essential activity is curtailed, Fahy said, in part to save energy should an emergency happen. In extreme heat, the heat of the fire plus the air temperature, combined with the gear firefighters wear can quicken heat exhaustion and overheating, Fahy said.
In early afternoon, firefighters in East Dundee were busy battling a small blaze on the front of the Community Thrift Store at the intersection of Routes 25 and 72.
And it goes without saying that throngs of kid were frolicking in the fountains at Festival Park in downtown Elgin and sunbathers, if not packed like sardines, were taking up a good part of the lawn at the Dundee Township Park District’s Dolphin Cove Aquatic Center in Carpentersville.
Of course, water is an issue this year with drought conditions impact a good portion of Illinois and other states. To that end, the Fox River in East and West Dundee had algae blooms on its banks Thursday. The blooms appear when water levels are low and there is a lack of oxygen in the water.
In Elgin, the Fox’s low levels have meant using 10 percent more chemicals to treat water from March until now than had been used during the same time frame last year, the city’s water director Kyla Jacobsen said.
While Elgin had no ban in place, Jacobsen encouraged people to use water wisely — and noted that watering a lawn during the heat of day is a waste of a resource as most of it evaporates.
Still, at midday Jacobsen said it looked like the city might be on its way to breaking an all-time water usage mark set June 21, 2005, when people in the city used 22.4 million gallons. Jacobsen said the city had already treated 30 million gallons by lunchtime in anticipation of a big demand.
While things have been dry, rain was anticipated this weekend. And fireworks shows planned in Hoffman Estates, Sleepy Hollow and Bartlett will be taking place on the 4th of July as planned, as will the Dundee Township Park District’s show at Meadowdale Park in Carpentersville this Saturday. The Northwest Fourth Fest — which is sponsored by Hoffman Estates, Hanover Park, Hanover Township and Elgin — takes place on the grounds of the Sears Centre, which are concrete.