In Minnesota, the heat goes on

  • Article by: MARIA BACA and BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 17, 2012 - 6:06 AM

In 98-degree weather, volunteers check on the elderly, power use surges and lakes bake.

The Twin Cities had another toasty day Monday, although the high of 98 degrees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport fell shy of the predicted triple-digit reading.

That was still plenty warm, and potentially dangerous for some. Volunteers for Meals on Wheels were doing double duty: delivering food to elderly clients and also checking on their welfare, especially those who lack air conditioning. The agency makes daily visits to about 8,500 clients.

"These are people who are pretty vulnerable to heat stress during weeks like this," said Patrick Rowan, executive director of Metro Meals on Wheels, which coordinates local programs.

"People need a place to escape from the heat. We counsel them, or notify relatives, when we get concerned, but if our clients are in immediate stress, we'll call 911. We all need to keep an eye out for our relatives and neighbors."

At Hennepin County Medical Center, 47 people of varying ages have been treated for heat-related conditions during the first two weeks of July, said spokeswoman Christine Hill. The problems include heatstroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration and conditions such as asthma that can be exacerbated by the heat.

A snapshot of other weather items:

Lots of 90s, but not like '88: Monday was the 11th of July's first 16 days with a high temperature of 90 degrees or above. The record for an entire summer is 44, in 1988. By July 16 of that year, there had been 26 such days; Monday was the 20th this year. The seasonal average is 13.

Mega power use: Xcel Energy said electrical demand surged to a level just short of the record 9,544 megawatts consumed during a single hour on July 20 last year. Spokeswoman Mary Sandok said final numbers are not yet available.

Although nearly 3,000 of Xcel's almost 1 million customers did not have power at 4 p.m. Monday, Sandok said the scattered outages were likely because of heat-related equipment failures, not because of a shortage of power.

Warm lake: Water temperatures Monday morning on Lake Minnetonka averaged 83 degrees between Tanager Bay and Wayzata Bay, said Minnehaha Watershed District spokeswoman Telly Mamayek. That's two degrees higher than a year ago and five degrees higher than four years ago, but two degrees cooler than last week.

Possibly historic: The average temperature for July through Sunday was 81.6, two-tenths of a degree higher than the record monthlong average in July 1936, a Dust Bowl year. But it's unlikely the current heat will persist for an entire month, said Pete Boulay, assistant DNR state climatologist.

The forecast: The Twin Cities should see a high Tuesday of "only" 90. Highs are expected to drop into the 80s Wednesday and Thursday before popping back up into the 90s for the weekend.

Staff writer Warren Wolfe contributed to this report. Mbaca@startribune.com • 612-673-4409 Mcaul@startribune.com • 612-673-7646

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