How are those working outdoors handling the weather? ‘Very carefully’
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org July 5, 2012 1:42PM
Postal Worker Rey Marquez, cools himself off from working under the blazing sun along his route in Joliet, IL on Thursday July 6, 2012. 103 degrees, the new official high temperature for the day, was set at O'Hare, which is the official climate site for the city of Chicago. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media .
Updated: August 7, 2012 6:20AM
The heat wave that has had the Chicago area in its grip this week is not letting up. Friday could be a record-breaking, above-100-degree day and relief may not come until Sunday, with Saturday also expected to reach a high near 100.
An excessive heat warning that has been in effect for all of northern Illinois and northwestern Indiana until 10 p.m. Friday has been extended to 4 p.m. Saturday for Cook, Lake, Kane, DuPage, McHenry and Lake (Ind.) counties, according to the National Weather Service. The warning is in effect until 7 p.m. Saturday for Will and Kankakee counties.
It was so hot Thursday, Joliet mailman Rey Marquez walked his route on the near West Side with a wet towel on his head, strapped on with a rubber band.
He stopped in one yard to re-wet his towel and head with a garden hose.
“Hydration, water, a rag on the head,” he said, explaining how he beats the heat. “Keep your body moist. Put a wet towel around the neck.”
Marquez and others who have to work outside have had to deal with the blazing heat all week. The Joliet area has had temperatures in the 90s — and a couple of days in the 100s — for five days in a row.
Marquez, who has been delivering mail in Joliet for 25 years, said he’d rather work in snow.
“You can only take off so much. In the winter you can add clothes,” he said.
The city of Joliet lists several public buildings as cooling shelters, places people without access to air conditioning can go to relax. The Joliet Public Library branches and Louis Joliet Mall are cooling shelters, as well as MorningStar Mission and Daybreak Shelter in the evenings.
The downtown branch of the Joliet Public Library buzzed with patrons Thursday afternoon, but not many people were simply seeking refuge from the heat, library director Diane Harmon said.
“We’ve been having people come in out of the heat for quite a while now, so they’re pretty much our regulars,” she said. “I have not noticed being packed at all other than with people using the library.”
Bill Curwick, an operator with the city of Crest Hill’s public works department, was outside with a crew Thursday morning cutting up branches knocked down in a recent storm and hauling them away.
How does he handle the heat?
“Very carefully,” Curwick said. “We’re just used to it. We have to do our job. Rain or shine, heat or snow.”
He and his co-workers made sure they had plenty of Gatorade to replace the salt and electrolytes they lost sweating in the high temperatures.
The heat wave broke at least one record Thursday.
At 2 p.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service in Romeoville reported the temperature hit 103 degrees at O’Hare Airport. That broke the record for July 5, which was 102 degrees.
The weather service also reported the temperature reached 105 at Lake Michigan in Chicago, but records are charted at O’Hare.
The hottest temperature ever recorded in Chicago was 105.
There is an end to the heat wave in sight, said Richard Castro, a weather service meteorologist.
After temperatures likely will hit the upper 90s again on Saturday, a string of days with temperatures in the mid-80s is predicted to start Sunday, he said.