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Effects of Heat Wave Starting to Show

Effects of Heat Wave Starting to Show

Posted - Jul. 21, 2003 at 9:27 p.m.



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Samantha Hayes reporting We're in the middle of one of the longest and most intense heat waves in Utah history, and the effects are starting to show.

Air conditioner repairman Steve Folkerson says, "I've been doing this since I was 10 years old.. I've never seen it this hot."

So far, this is the second hottest July on record-- second only to last summer. And the meltdown is taking a toll in several areas.

Dry, nearly brittle brush tells the story. There is just no moisture in the ground or the air. That means ozone is at an unhealthy level, fire restrictions are in place, and finding a way to cool off is becoming a real challenge.

There's only one way to describe it, "Really hot!" And everything is feeling the heat.

The dreaded bark beetle bores into dry aspens and spruce and singed leaves show even drought-resistant plants aren't this drought resistant.

Bill Varga/ Director, Utah Botanical Center: "That's what people are seeing, are leaf scorches."

In the mountains, scorches of a threatening kind when heat-induced lightning storms rumble in. Over the weekend, several strikes started wildfires.

Kathy Jo Pollock/ Interagency Fire Center: "Now we are getting the higher temperatures, we're back up in the 100 degree weather, and we're going to get some high wind and thunderstorms with lightning. So we're back up in the extreme fire situation."

Monday was the eleventh day we hit 100 degree temperatures or higher, which puts us on track to beat last year's record. That means we could have the hottest summer in history.

Up on the roof, Steve Folkerson works in 114 degree heat fixing air conditioners.

"I've never seen it this hot, and it's taken its toll on units," he says. "It's knocking out compressors, fan motors, it's just eating the equipment. It's the heat. Units are sized for 90 degree temperatures in this area, not sized for 100 degree temperatures."

So it may be back to conventional ways of cooling off for a while-- find a mister, or make your own breeze.

Just don't come to Utah to escape the heat.

Tina Seipel/ Gainesville, Texas Resident: "I drove up here from Gainesville, Texas-- that's 1,400 miles-- and I came up here thinking I'd be getting out of the heat. I think it's worse here than it is in Gainesville."

There are fire restrictions throughout most of the state. Open campfires outside of recreation sites are prohibited. And fireworks are not allowed in many areas as we approach the Pioneer Day celebration.

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