Temperatures reach 100 for second consecutive day
CHAMPAIGN — A local weather record was tied on Friday when temperatures in Champaign-Urbana reached 100 degrees for the second consecutive day.
Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel said the thermometer reached 100 degrees at 1:54 p.m., marking the second time consecutive three-digit temperatures were recorded in the Twin-Cities.
Angel said 1953 marked the only other time the area experienced 100 degrees on consecutive days in June.
"And I would rate Friday more uncomfortable than Thursday," Angel said. "It is unusual to have two days in a row with 100-degree temperatures."
He said relative humidity recorded at Willard Airport rose from 45 percent on Thursday to 47 percent on Friday.
"The water content was a little bit higher than on Thursday," he said.
With less than a 20 percent chance for rain today, Angel said the area could be in store for more hot weather.
Angel said central Illinois has been under the influence of high pressure.
"We get stuck with lots of hot weather and not much precipitation, conditions that are often associated with a summertime drought," Angel said. "The conditions suppress any thunderstorms and keep hot air sticking around, and we're not getting any cold fronts coming through the area."
In Danville, the city opened a cooling station on Friday at the David S. Palmer Civic Center. The cooling center will be open 24 hours a day until the heat advisory is lifted. Beds, food and water will be available for those who wish to sleep at the arena.
"We're starting to see a lot more people today than yesterday," Janet Ragle, Provena United Samaritans Medical Center's director of emergency services, said Friday. "This is the second day of these really high temperatures, and it's starting to take its toll on those who are spending too much time in the heat."
Due to the heat wave, air-conditioners at homes and businesses are working overtime, and as a result, utilities are asking customers to unplug any non-essential equipment to reduce electricity demand.
Due to the extreme heat and potential for severe weather, Ameren Illinois' emergency operations center has opened.
"In case we need to respond, we are on alert to do so. Everyone is engaged and ready to go," said Ameren Illinois spokeswoman Victoria Busch.
Outages have been minimal and no significant events have occurred in East Central Illinois as of Friday night. Few power outages were reported in East Central Illinois according to Ameren's outage website, http://www.illinoisoutage.com.
The record, in terms of demand, has not been broken so far this year.
The demand record for all of Ameren Illinois' service area was set on July 21, 2011. On that day, 9,605 megawatts of energy were used, according to Busch. (The previous record was set two days prior at 9,502 megawatts, and prior to that, the record was 9,386 megawatts on Aug. 7, 2007.)
"People are plugging in more, doing more, and when it's real hot, many of them will turn on the A/C. We have businesses, retail stores, residential, everyone. We'd like to remind customers to practice good energy conservation and efficiency measures," she said.
University of Illinois employees on Thursday evening were asked via a mass email to unplug any non-essential equipment, turn off lights and shut down computers not being used.
The university buys electricity from two companies: Ameren and Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator. Both companies asked customers to reduce their use as the demand has increased as temperatures have soared, said Andy Blacker, a spokesman for UI Facilities and Services.
"We were able to reduce our demand ... by people altering their behaviors," Blacker said. "Turning off anything that uses electricity or energy does make a difference: computers, monitors, restroom lights. The simple changes do add up and can have big impact on our energy consumption," he said.
The university keeps the campus cool with a centralized chilled water system. Large chiller plants create chilled water, and that cool water is pumped out to cool campus buildings, according to Blacker.
"One of the main reasons we've been able to keep up with campus demand, and be able to reduce electricity usage during peak demand yesterday [Thursday] was we used the thermal energy storage facility," he said.
That facility, a huge tank off Neil Street, stores cool water during times when demand is low. It can then supplement the chilled water supply during peak demand times, according to Blacker.
And this is one of those peak demand times.
Parkland College was closed on Friday, as it is on most Fridays in the summer. Two years ago the college decided to close the campus on Fridays in the summer to save on energy costs. Based on an analysis from two years ago, the college saved about $40,000 by doing so.
"We shut down computers, the air-conditioning doesn't go on and the lights are off," said Parkland College spokesman Patty Lehn.
Champaign County Humane Society Executive Director Mary Tiefenbrunn recommends that pet owners limit their furry friends' exposure to the outdoor heat.
"Obviously dogs need to go outside a little bit, but when the weather feels oppressive, I would advise taking dogs out for 10 minutes at a time," she said. "That's playing it safe. And walk, don't run. You can't take a dog jogging on a day like Friday."
Tiefenbrunn said hydration is very important for pets.
"People make the mistake that just because they have water, it is safe for the dog to be overheated," she said. "When the internal body organs get so high, it is hard to prevent organ failure. If you wait until a dog looks like it is going to pass out, it could be too late."
Tiefenbrunn said pet owners should not allow pets to linger on asphalt and should never leave them in a parked vehicle.
"Leaving them in a parked vehicle is a violation of the law; it's a bad idea," she said. "If you see someone doing that, call the police."
Most of all, Tiefenbrunn advises pet owners to refrain from bringing pets to fireworks shows.
"A lot of dogs get scared or made nervous by fireworks. There is no reason to put a pet under that kind of stress."