GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

July 16, 2013

Feeling the heat

Residents coping with a new wave

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Weather Channel and Accuweather all give varying reports on the local forecast, one factor is certain — it’s hot.

While NOAA forecasts show the temperature in the area will vary in the 80s throughout the week, other weather services show the temperature reaching into the 90s beginning today and staying there through much of Friday, coupled with high humidity.

And from iced coffees to enjoying Gloucester’s and Cape Ann’s beaches, residents Monday found different ways to beat — or enjoy — the heat.

Linda Henry grabbed an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts on Main Street in Gloucester before hopping in a Gloucester Fire Department ambulance to continue her shift as paramedic.

Henry said there had not been many medical transports for heat-related reasons, but the week is young.

“It’s drastically hot,” said Franklin Bright, visiting from Cambridge.

Bright, enjoying some frozen yogurt from the newly opened Orange Leaf in the Walgreens plaza, is staying near Wingaersheek Beach said he took the usual routes on how to stay cool.

“Drinking a lot of fluids, and staying in the AC whenever that’s possible,” he said. “(Sunday) was brutal.”

Others, like Richard Doucette, enjoy the heat.

Doucette has lived in Florida, Texas and California and is no stranger to high temperatures; he said he much prefers the heat compared to winter weather.

“Once you get the cold in your hands, you can’t get it out,” he said outside of the Rose Baker Senior Center Monday afternoon.

While Doucette does not have air conditioning, he said he enjoys his ceiling fan and the cool breeze he gets from the ocean, not to mention the cool temperatures inside the senior center itself.

“I wish it was open later,” he said.

While the city of Gloucester does not have any permanent cooling center, city officials are trying to rework what would constitute a heat wave and the conditions that would call for opening a designated cooling center.

Under the city’s current policy, a heat wave would need to reach about 100 degrees for a period of three or more days, according to Gloucester Fire Chief and emergency management director Eric Smith.

Smith said new policies are being discussed to define a heat wave as three or more consecutive days with a temperature of about 95 degrees.

“We were right on the border line of that point,” Smith said, noting the July 4 weekend was also a warm stretch just a little over a week ago.

While the policy does have other caveats, Smith said there is also a discussion on how a heat index is measured, typically by combining heat and humidity factors.

If a heat index is calculated in Boston or another part of the state, it may not represent what the weather is like in Gloucester or around Cape Ann. Heat indexes are also not typically predicted far in advance, Smith said.

“We’re kind of caught in between data sets,” Smith said.

While the city does want to help those without a means to stay cool, it must be at the right time.

“We don’t want to open it when heat gets near the boarder line and have it an underutilized resource,” Smith said.

Many of those working outside in Monday’s 89-degree heat took the heat and humidity in stride.

Kris Sarka and Carter Roberts said Monday afternoon they had been in the sun since 5 a.m., working on the soon-to-be flower beds and walkways around the Sawyer Free Library. The two were hammering Cape Ann granite in the heat, subcontracted through a local company, Wright Industries.

“It’s not so bad today,” Sarka said.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at jniedzinski@gloucestertimes.com.