Midwest can’t get any relief from oppressive heat

DETROIT — When the air conditioner stopped in Ashley Jackson’s Southfield, Mich., home, so too did normal conversations and nightly rest.

“Inside the house it was 91 degrees. … I wasn’t talking to anybody. Nobody was talking to anybody,” said Jackson, 23, who works as a short-order cook in Detroit. “We mostly slept, but it was hard to sleep because of the heat. I probably got about four hours of sleep each night.”

St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago and several other Midwest cities already have broken heat records this week or are on the verge of doing so. And with even low temperatures setting record highs, some residents have no means of relief, day or night.

The National Weather Service said the record-breaking heat that has baked the nation’s midsection for several days was slowly moving into the mid-Atlantic states and Northeast. Excessive-heat warnings remained in place Friday for all of Iowa, Indiana and Illinois as well as much of Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Kentucky.

St. Louis hit a record high of 105 on Wednesday and a record low of 83. In Wisconsin, the coolest Milwaukee and Madison got was 81 in the early morning, beating previous low records by 2 and 4 degrees respectively. Temperatures didn’t fall below 79 in Chicago, 78 in Grand Rapids, Mich., and 75 in Indianapolis.

“When a day starts out that warm, it doesn’t take as much time to reach high temperatures in the low 100s,” said Marcia Cronce, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “You know it’ll be a warm day when you start out at 80 degrees.”

In Chicago on Thursday, the Shedd Aquarium lost power as temperatures soared to 103 degrees, a record for July 5. Officials said emergency generators immediately kicked in and the outage never threatened any of animals, but several hundred visitors were sent back out into the heat.

Not even the setting of the sun brought respite as temperatures hovered around 90 degrees downtown at 10 p.m. Some visitors made their way to Millennium Park to splash in the park’s kid-friendly Crown Fountain.

“It’s hotter here than it is in Arizona,” said Mary Dominis, of Tempe, who brought her daughter along to play in the water. “I came here to visit my family and to get away from the heat of Arizona.”

Ruben Davila, 32, of Northern California, was also in Chicago visiting family, and at the park seeking some cool relief.

“The heat has made it difficult to walk around and view the sites,” said Davila, who was accompanied by his wife and three children.

The heat has been much worse than a mere inconvenience for some. St. Louis officials have reported three heat-related deaths in recent days, and officials in the Chicago area said two people there may have died due to heat Wednesday. A coroner in Rock County, Wis., said the death of an 83-year-old woman there was definitely due to the heat.

It was hot enough to buckle a roadway Wednesday afternoon in Chicago, where Columbus Drive cracked and bulged, forcing the city to close the road for repairs.

And with the National Weather Service’s excessive heat warning for the city extended through Friday evening, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard canceled all summer school classes for the day.

But relief is on the way. The weather service forecast that cooler temperatures and scattered showers could bring some relief across the Upper Midwest going into the weekend, but warned of strong to severe storms in the area.

Meanwhile, many cities have tried to help by opening cooling centers and extending the hours for their public pools. Compounding the high heat in Michigan was damage wrought by storms. About 157,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power early Friday.

Lack of electricity also is likely to compound the misery for many in the storm-ravaged East as the dangerous temperatures move in. Outages reported late Thursday included nearly 230,000 in West Virginia. More than 71,000 were without power Friday morning in Virginia.

Maryland, which still had more than 45,000 without power, also reported Thursday that eight people had died of heat-related causes in recent days.

The heat has also taken a toll on agriculture.

Dean Hines, the owner of Hines Ranch Inc. in the western Wisconsin town of Ellsworth, said he found one of his 80 dairy cows dead Thursday, an apparent victim of the heat. He said he was worried about the rest of his herd, in terms of death toll, reproductive consequences and milk production.

“We’re using fans and misters to keep them cool,” he said. “It’s been terrible. When it doesn’t cool down at night, the poor animals don’t have a chance to cool down.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

Cassandra Lopez-Shaw
Snohomish County judge accused of ‘needlessly’ exposing staff to COVID

Adam Cornell argues the incident reinforces a need to suspend jury trials, as omicron wreaks havoc.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

A car drives by flowers placed at a memorial for two pedestrians killed at the corner of 204th Street NE and Highway 9 on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$500K bail for driver accused of killing 2 Arlington pedestrians

Elliott Bagley, 28, told an officer he’d had a couple beers before the crash Thursday, according to police.

Michelle Roth is a registered nurse in the Providence Emergency Department on Sunday, January 23, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Nurses face burnout as hospital staffing shortage continues

‘It feels like there has been a mass exodus in the last two to three months.’

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

vote
Ballots sent for special election on public schools’ funding

Levies to pay for staff, programs, computers and capital projects are on the Feb. 8 ballot across Snohomish County.

Houses along 88th Drive SE visible from the utility access road slated to become the Powerline Trail on Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022 in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Neighbors hold out on plan for new Lake Stevens trail

The city wants to build the Powerline Trail from 20th Street SE to Eighth Street SE. But homeowners have some concerns.

A car drives by Everett Station where Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin's proposal for its ARPA funds includes funding a child care center at station. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald) 20211118
Billionaire Bezos wants to bring free preschool to Everett

The Amazon founder’s program would be housed at Everett Station. Admission would be determined by lottery.

Most Read