Temperatures hovering near 100 today gives "hotter than a firecracker on the Fourth of July" added meaning this year.
For the past few days, the heat has meant great attendance at the Champaign Park District's only pool and has sent several people to the libraries.
And if East Central Illinoisans can just sweat out the next few days, there's relief in sight, at least according to Greg Soulje, a meteorologist whose forecasts are featured in The News-Gazette and on WDWS and WHMS Radio.
"There is a break coming," he said, adding, "It does not signify an end to the hot weather. The heat-wave weather will likely come back in a couple of weeks."
A slow-moving cold front should hit the area over the weekend, and that may mean thunderstorm activity on Saturday and Sunday.
"Some spots will get a good soaking, and that heralds the arrival of cooler weather, more in line with what we'd expect for early July," Soulje said. In addition to lower temperatures, the cold front will also mean a break from the oppressive humidity that moved the veteran forecaster to use the phrase "stinkin' hot."
Fear of fire due to the lack of rain has prompted the cancellation of several area fireworks shows. Communities that have canceled include Bement, Monticello, Paris, Tuscola and Villa Grove.
Still on for tonight are the Champaign County Freedom Celebration fireworks at Parkland College and Dodds Park and the show at the Champaign County Forest Preserve's Lake of the Woods at Mahomet.
The high temperatures have made the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District building on Kenyon Road in Champaign a lively spot.
"We have had record numbers of people coming in since it's gotten hot," said administrator Julie Pryde. "We've set it up to be a very kid-friendly center. We have free food for kids 18 and under: breakfast, a morning snack and lunch from 1 to 3 p.m. All kids get a free book. We have coloring stations, free WiFi."
"There have been 100 or more people in here a day. There are times when it's completely full. We try to make it very accommodating and friendly so people can be comfortable hanging out with their kids," she said.
On Thursday, they moved their farmers' market inside, which encouraged folks to linger, Pryde said.
Over in Danville, a handful of people have used the Salvation Army at 855 E. Fairchild St. for a breather.
Sharon Sawka, director of social services, said four people came in Friday and another six on Monday.
"We offer them water, and we have some chips that were donated to our food pantry," she said.
The cooling center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday but is closed today and on weekends.
Marsha Grove, director of the Champaign Public Library, said she's not sure if the heat is a factor in how busy they are because summer is always busy at the library.
"We average 3,000 a day anyway so it's always busy to us. One of the things staff did mention they've noticed is people coming in with longer lists of books to have to read at home. They are checking out more and the ones coming in are saying it's too hot to be outside," she said.
She said the use of electronic books is up 192 percent from this time last year.
"People can download from home and not even have to get out," she said.
Across town at the Urbana Free Library, Kathy Wicks, associate director, said the heat has meant more people inside. "There are a lot of people in the building, not necessarily using the computer stations or attending programs but just hanging out. Our front rooms are very, very pleasant. We have WiFi so they are probably using computers. The children's department has said that in the afternoon they're seeing an increase in the number of parents with children," Wicks said.
That has translated into an uptick in the sale of cookies at the cafe.
High temperatures are almost always a good thing in the pool business.
Megan Kuhlenschmidt, sports and aquatics manager for the Champaign Park District, said she didn't have attendance numbers for the Sholem Aquatic Center but could say with certainty that there have been a lot of people at the pool for the last several days.
"We have our regulars and they come no matter what. We have a lot of pool pass holders, families. This year we have $4 Fridays for residents. Those have been popular," she said.
Sholem is open today from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. with activities all day, such as face-painting and a cannonball contest.
"It's hot and the water is cold," she said.
Market Place Mall in Champaign is also open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but individual store hours may vary. General manager Dennis Robertson said the hot weather has kept the mall busy.
"We have seen traffic throughout the heat wave. It's a way to get out of the house and have something to do in a cool environment," he said.
Spokeswomen for Ameren Illinois and Illinois American Water said both companies have been able to keep up with demand during this hot, dry spell.