Things are going to get quite toasty this weekend as an excessive heat watch has been issued for Scott County.
The National Weather Service’s watch starts Thursday afternoon and continues through Sunday. High temperatures are forecast for the low to mid 90s with heat indices above 100 degrees and could reach as high as 110 degrees. The National Weather Service (NWS) predicts the highest heat index values west of I-65.
An excessive heat watch is issued when there is expected to be a prolonged period of hot temperatures and high humidity to create a condition which heat illnesses are possible, according to the NWS. Several days of heat indices near or above 105 degrees can have a cumulative effect on some individuals, especially those who work outside for an extended amount of time. It is advised to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room and check on relatives and neighbors. It is also worth remembering that car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in minutes and never leave child, pets or the elderly unattended.
WKYT Chief Meteorologist Chris Bailey said the main time for the heat will be Friday and Saturday.
“Temperatures will be 90-95, which is obviously pretty hot, but when you throw humidity in the mix, it will feel a lot hotter,” he said. “It will feel 100-105. That is the heat index and that is what your body thinks the temperature is. And the humidity will be off the charts Friday and Saturday.”
He did say there was the chance for a “heat-busting” shower or thunderstorm either of those days.
Mike Hennigan, director of Georgetown/Scott County EMA, said they have reached out to some local churches to be on standby in case anyone needs to get in out of the heat.
“We are treating it like we did the warming shelters that if someone needs to get somewhere, they can call 863-7200 and they will get in touch with us,” he said. “What we have found from experience is there is no sense having the shelters open all day and nobody shows up. People tend to stay cool by going to the movies or hanging out inside somewhere.”
Livestock and pets also can show signs of stress during extreme heat, and Keenan Bishop, extension agent for agriculture and natural resources with the Franklin County Extension Office, said water, water and more water is crucial.
“For pets, hopefully it will be easier to let them inside with you in the air conditioning. You don’t want them in a cage or a chain in the sun. A tarp can help too,” he said. “For livestock, pets and humans, they need access to cool, clean water and drink a lot of it.”
A beef cow under normal circumstances drinks 12-14 gallons of water a day, and dairy cows drink more than that, he said. In the kind of heat that is being forecast, that amount only goes up.
“They just need unlimited water supply,” he said. “And farmers have a job to do and make hay between the rains. Try to work in the coolest parts of the days and drink plenty of water.”
Kentucky Utilities spokesperson Daniel Lowry said the utility is OK on capacity and shouldn’t create any problems meeting demand.
“There are things people can do to keep down the strain on your system,” he said. “Make sure your system is tuned-up, filters are changed and the unit is clear of debris, plants, dirt and grass clippings. Those keep air from circulating and cooling.”
Bishop said, personally, he thinks it is easier to deal with livestock in the cold than heat.
“In the cold, as long as an animal has a windbreak or adequate feed, they are fine,” he said. “For people or animals, it’s hard to escape the heat. You can’t get away from it.”
And Bailey said hang in through the weekend as things get better.
“We get a big cold front in town late Sunday and Monday with thunderstorms by Tuesday and Wednesday and it will feel like September. We are going to heat index of 100-105 and lows in the 50s,” he said.
In a press release, health officials with the Department for Public Health urge the public to take steps to avoid injury and illness during periods of extreme summertime heat.
“During summer we often spend long periods of time outside. However, with warmer extreme temperatures comes the risk of overexertion, so we advise the public to take steps to keep cool and prevent harm,” said Jeff Howard, DPH commissioner. “Serious injury and even death — particularly for children and older adults exposed to extreme levels of heat — can occur.”
Steve MCClain can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.