Holiday is over, but heat isn’t

With miserably hot temperatures, the advice is to stay cool, and skip that daily jog. Also beware of melting ice cream.

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It was hot as a firecracker on Wednesday as the Twin Cities set an Independence Day record of 101 degrees, sending holiday revelers in search of ways to endure the heat.

After six days of temperatures in the 90s, the sweltering heat is expected to hang around another day. Forecasters expect a break Friday and Saturday, when highs in the metro area should be a more moderate 80 to 85 degrees.

“Limit your outdoor activities,” said Rick Hiltbrand , a meteorologist at the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service. “Try to get inside where it’s cool or stay in the shade.”

As the region fell under a steady drumbeat of excessive-heat warnings, stores ran out of air conditioners, ice companies hustled to fill orders, and police and fire stations gave out free water. The temperature hit the triple digits about 2:55 p.m., topping a 1949 Twin Cities record by one degree.

It was so hot that ice cream sales actually dipped at the Dairy Queen on W. 7th Street in St. Paul.
“The ice cream melts and it’s just a mess,” manager Justine Johnson said. Her advice: If you buy ice cream, get it in a cup.

 With neighborhoods buzzing with the sound of air conditioners, the power grid mostly held up under the strain, according to Xcel Energy.

About 2,900 households in south Minneapolis were without power for about two hours after a cable failed, spokesman Tom Hoen  said. The failure was not heat-related. A smattering of other minor outages reported across the state were resolved relatively quickly.

“This is a condition we planned for to make sure we can handle,” Hoen said.

 People took to the water early at Lake Independence in Maple Plain. The boat launch at the lake in Baker Park Reserve filled up by 8 a.m., said Bruce Boulduan , park operations supervisor.

ampgrounds with electrical hookups filled right up, he said,  but there was no waiting for a prime camping spot without power.

“We had significantly fewer tent campers this year,” Boulduan said. “With this heat, it’s just too uncomfortable.”

Meanwhile, many people hoping to cool off their homes were out of luck.

Warners’ Stellian  Appliances on Nicollet Avenue S. in Minneapolis had 35 air conditioners on hand Tuesday, but by Wednesday they were all gone, said Miles Lybeck , a salesman. The company still had some in its warehouse, he said.

Customers are emotional, Lybeck said. “They don’t know what they want. They are hot, they are bothered, they want relief.”

Shelves were also empty at the Best Buy store in Richfield, where customer service representative Leah Dahlberg  said “a huge run” on Tuesday meant low inventory on Wednesday.

People are hunting for fans instead, said Jim Welna , owner of Welna II  Hardware on E. Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

“The phone started ringing at 6:30 a.m., checking to see if we had fans and pools for the kiddies and pets,” he said. “In the last week, we have probably sold 30 fans. In a normal week, we would sell three.”

  Hospitals and urgent care centers around the Twin Cities reported an uptick in people seeking treatment for heat-related conditions .

A spokeswoman at Regions Hospital in St. Paul said that two patients were admitted to the emergency room by noon.

Park Nicollet saw a “definite increase” in the number of people seeking care at its six Twin Cities centers, but “nothing really serious,”  spokesman Jeremiah Whitten said.

Several hospitals in the HealthEast system treated patients for heat-related problems but were not as busy as in recent days, spokeswoman Jodi Ritacca said. 

Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis has treated nine patients with heat-related problems in the past two days, said Dr. Stephen Smith. The  emergency staff physician was advising people to stay in an air-conditioned place.

“If you have to go out, don’t go out for long,” he said. “If you have to exert yourself, be careful, and if you start to feel weak or dizzy, then quickly find a cool place, especially if you are active. Your temperature can rise quickly.”

He also advised runners to not run in the excessive heat.

“I am a runner, and I would not go out in this weather,” he said. • 612-673-4224 • 612-673-7335

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