Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Hot, dry weather is here to stay

by Amber McDown

It’s unusually hot for this time of year and, unfortunately, this trend is forecasted to continue throughout the summer. This time of year, temperatures are normally in the low 90s. Instead, temperatures have been climbing into the upper 90s. 

“Based on trends here — unless we receive a decaying tropical cyclone through Louisiana that may provide a good rainfall — I’m expecting a rather warm and dry summer. Warmer temperatures than normal and below normal rainfall,” said a spokesman for the National Weather Service in Shreveport. 

Our June weather currently feels more like our August weather, and there’s a reason for that. “A strong upper-level ridge has developed over the central United States. Normally, it develops over the desert southwest this time of year, and provides hot temperatures to areas like Death Valley and Arizona,” the spokesman continued. “Instead, this year, it’s developed over the central United States. That trend will continue for at least another week and a half. As a result, it will steer any potential hurricanes or tropical storms well to the south into Mexico, and it also has a tendency to cut off rainfall. That trend can change, however, by late summer into autumn.” Hurricane season for our area this year is June 1 through November 30. 

With the ongoing high temperatures, it’s important to find ways to stay cool. First, stay in the air-conditioning if possible. 

Drink plenty of fluids. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down, and it takes water to do this. Also, becoming dehydrated can be very dangerous. 

Wear loose, lightweight clothing. Natural materials like cotton and linen are cooling, while synthetic fabrics — like polyester — usually retain heat. 

Try to avoid going outside during the hottest times of the day, and try to stay in the shade if you do. 

Eating and drinking cold things like popsicles can help you cool down and, surprisingly, eating spicy food can too. Spicy foods increase your blood circulation which causes you to sweat, and sweating helps keep you cooler. 

You can also cool down “hot zones” on your body by placing a chilled cloth on your temples, wrists, neck, behind the knees and insides of elbows. These are areas where blood vessels are close to the surface of the skin, so cooling these areas helps cool your blood as it circulates through your body. 

Using a fan can help, especially if you mist a little water on your skin (to simulate sweat). There are numerous people living in Minden who do not have air conditioning in their homes, and many of them are our older residents. The Webster Council on Aging conducts an annual Fan Drive to collect fans for people ages 60 and up. With these high temperatures, they are running out of fans. “We really need a new supply,” said Mike Magee, Program Manager for the Council on Aging. If you would be interested in making donations, please contact them at (318) 371-3056. If you are needing a fan, “Just give us a call,” Magee said. 

Getting overheated can lead to heatstroke or hyperthermia. If you suspect that someone is suffering from a heat-related illness, the National Institute of Health recommends the following:

  • Get the person out of the heat and into a shady, air-conditioned or other cool place. Urge them to lie down. 
  • If you suspect heat stroke, call 911.
  • Encourage the individual to shower, bathe or sponge off with cool water.
  • Apply a cold, wet cloth to the wrists, neck, armpits, and/or groin. These are places where blood passes close to the surface of the skin, and the cold cloths can help cool the blood.
  • If the person can swallow safely, offer fluids such as water, fruit and vegetable juices, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.

While the summer weather has already begun, we haven’t quite left spring yet. Summer officially begins on Tuesday, June 21.

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