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Summer arrives early

Frank Felix beat the heat Tuesday afternoon by playing on the water slide at Hartselle swimming pool. | Clif Knight

The temperature is rising and summer is here to stay, according to the extended weather forecast from the National Weather Service.

Record or near-record temperatures are expected Thursday (today) and Friday in Huntsville with a predicted high of 98 degrees both days, prompting a heat advisory. The record high for June 2 is 97 degrees, which was recorded in 1921. The forecast calls for 90-plus temperatures through June 8 with a substantial amount of rainfall unlikely.

The heat wave was timed perfectly for the opening of Hartselle’s swimming pool on Memorial Day weekend when the mercury shot up to the mid-90s.

“It came at a good time for us,” said pool manager Lacy Garnett. “We had a big crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy the water.”

But while many were happy playing in the 81-degree pool water, others were concerned about the need for more energy to keep their homes cool. They were remembering the TVA power blackout following the April 27 tornadoes and wondering if a big increase in demand could cause another shutdown.

“We expect the heat to increase power demand,” said Hartselle Utilities general manager Ferrell Vest, “but TVA spokesmen are telling us their system is stable and they don’t anticipate any problems.

“While TVA is not asking us to take steps to reduce our demand, we feel like it’s a good idea for our customers to conserve where they can and still stay comfortable in their homes and businesses,” Vest added. “TVA still has not fully recovered from the tornado damage and it should be noted that Hartselle does not currently have a backup power system.”

The heat is also a detriment to HU personnel whose jobs require them to work outdoors, Vest pointed out.

“To cope with the heat, we encourage them to drink plenty of water or Gatorade and take more and longer heat breaks,” he said. “We want them to monitor their feelings carefully and make sure they don’t reach a point of being overcome by the heat.”

Mayor Dwight Tankersley said similar precautions are taken with city employees who work outdoors.

“We want them to make sure they are drinking plenty of fluids and watching for signs that may be leading to head exhaustion,” he said. “They also are asked to take breaks when they are needed to cool off.”

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