Heat wave bakes Minnesota; State Fair attendance way down

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE and STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: August 28, 2013 - 9:54 AM

Fair attendance is way down from last year; students are already weary of trying to study in stifling classrooms.

Day Three of a sweltering heat wave took a toll across the Twin Cities on Tuesday, testing everyone’s ability to stay cool and keep their cool and even keeping people away from the Minnesota State Fair.

After two days of record-breaking heat, the temp reached 96 Tuesday, three degrees shy of the record. Little relief is in sight, with temps in the low and mid-90s expected through the end of the week.

Frustration mounted at schools without air conditioning, such as north Minneapolis’ Patrick Henry High School, where students said the heat is making it hard to study. It’s one of 18 Minneapolis public schools without air conditioning; 11 are partly cooled.

Senior Francisco Velez said it’s hard to concentrate, and only one of his seven classrooms had fans, forcing students to fan themselves with folders to keep a breeze going. But fans also create noise and disputes among students about where to direct the breeze, senior Todd Riser said.

“A lot of kids are drowsy and don’t want to talk as much,” Riser said at a news conference after school to call attention to the hot classrooms. “They’re quieter.”

The heat apparently kept people away from the fair. Monday’s fair attendance numbers, released Tuesday afternoon, showed a dramatic drop in attendance over last year. Numbers were down Sunday as well.

But Twin Cities residents seemed to have found ways to adjust to their suddenly tropical climate. They were drinking lots of water (and more water). They were wearing lighter clothes. They were simply moving less. And they were living, working and playing in it.

Hot days = longer days

Movers Sean Erickson, Lomas Matadeen and Ron Erickson had each soaked through a T-shirt while loading a van under the noon sun along S. 2nd Street in Minneapolis.

Their strategies for getting through the day? Drink lots of water. Slow down. And take a break every hour instead of every two. It might make the day longer, but it makes the next day easier, Matadeen said.

And don’t make anyone work just inside the stifling hot van, Sean Erickson noted.

“There’s no other weather like this that’s as dangerous to be working in,” Ron Erickson said.

Closing early

Tuesday was the third day in a row that Kopplin’s Coffee in St. Paul closed early due to the heat. Barista Patrick Phalen said the building on Marshall Avenue was air-conditioned, but Phalen’s brow was beaded with sweat despite a terry-cloth headband and neckerchief that had been iced in the freezer.

The early closing might cost some business, Phalen said, but it was better than having employees suffer.

How does he get himself ready to work around an espresso machine (“the war zone,” Phalen called it) during a heat wave?

“Deodorant and lots of water,” he said.

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  • A student hung his head out a window at Patrick Henry High School.

  • A student hung his head out a window at Patrick Henry High School Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013](DAVID JOLES/STARTRIBUNE) djoles@startribune.com Minneapolis and area school students suffered through yet another day of brutal heat, many without the benefit of air conditioning. A protest of the hot learning conditions and press conference was held at Patrick Henry High School, following classes Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 organized by the Minneapolis teachers union and Neighborhoods organizing for Change. A few students spoke, including senior Todd Riser who said he heard a chemistry teacher exclaim it had reached more than 100 degrees in his room.

  • Patrick Henry senior Todd Riser said students on Tuesday were too drowsy to participate in overheated classrooms.

  • Seeking fresh air, a student hung his head out a window at Patrick Henry High School in north Minneapolis on Tuesday. Some classrooms don’t even have fans.

  • Domonique Gilmer, 25, powered up the hill at Farview Park in north Minneapolis on Tuesday evening in search of stronger, faster legs. After 20 sprints up the 150-meter hill, Gilmer headed home for a hot shower. “In 14 weeks it’s going to be snowing. This is my chance,” he said.

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