Charlestonians fight a heat wave more intense’ than average
It’s not over yet.
Sweltering heat blanketed the East Coast on Saturday, and high temperatures reached into the 90s from New England to the Southeast, in many cases setting records.
STEAMY THROUGH THE FOURTH
Forecasters expect Charleston and the rest of the East Coast to start cooling down next week. For the Fourth of July, the region’s in line for mostly sunny skies, a high of 94 degrees and a low of 76. Until then:
Sunny, with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Sunny, with a 20 per-cent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Mostly sunny, with a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Source: Weather Underground/National Weather Service
Those records will likely stand today, as forecasts predict cooler temperatures up and down the coast.
But Charleston is staying put.
The National Weather Service reported a high of 98 degrees at the airport at 1:50 p.m. Saturday, and today the area is under an excessive heat watch, with an expected high of 99 degrees and a heat index of 115.
On Saturday, the heat index flirted with that level, as the day’s moderate humidity sent the heat index up to 112 degrees at 2 p.m.
Hot weather is hardly a new phenomenon in South Carolina, but Steve Rowley, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said this heat wave has proven worse than normal.
“This is a little bit more intense than the average heat wave you would expect to get every year,” Rowley said.
Around 2 p.m. — in the day’s worst heat — Osiris Zacarias, 30, and Juan Placeres, 43, were feeling it.
They were finishing up a trip to LKQ, a scrapyard in North Charleston where they’d been pulling parts from a junked Honda Integra for about three hours. Before they called it quits, though, the two tried to eke out a few more minutes of energy by holding up a heat shield from under the hood for shade.
But enough was enough, and they headed out, Zacarias said, to buy a couple of Gatorades and take a nap.
“We’re off,” he said, pushing a wheelbarrow toward the exit. “Can’t deal with this heat anymore.”
Across the yard, Joe Schmitt, 43, and Katie Healey, 23, of Summerville, were just showing up. They came to get a windshield for Healey’s truck and decided to fight the heat on their day off rather than let someone else snatch up the last one.
The couple only spent about half an hour sawing the windshield from a scrapped truck, but afterward, they happily chugged a jug of water and made plans for the rest of the day.
“I hear the water park calling our name,” Schmitt said, making one of his last cuts.
Compared to the rest of the state, the Lowcountry has been spared, benefiting from the moderating effects of the Atlantic.
Columbia set an all-time record temperature Friday at 109 degrees and threatened to do so again Saturday, as the airport there reached 107 degrees in the late afternoon. At 5 p.m., Greenville reported a high of 101 degrees.
The distinction offered little consolation for Lowcountry residents, though, as they flocked to beaches and pools, looking to cool off.
Many Charlestonians will likely continue to do so today, as they wait for the hot air mass sitting over the region to retreat to the center of the country.
It will soon, Rowley said, as the jet stream dips back into the Carolinas and pushes a ridge of high pressure — and the mass of hot air associated with it — out of the area.
That air mass could return again over the next few months, Rowley said. Whether it will remains to be seen, but this heat wave might well be among the worst of the year.
“It’s certainly possible that this could end up being some of the hottest air we have all summer long,” he said.
Reach Thad Moore at 958-7360 or on Twitter @thadmoore.