Weather heating up

Craig hits 98 degrees, misses record by one

Thermometers across town reported 99, 100 and even 101 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, but the official record for Craig remains 99.

Thursday's official high, recorded at the Craig/Moffat County Airport, was 97, while Wednesday reached 98.

Officially, the hottest day in Craig's history was 99 on July 8, 1989, when the National Weather Service's thermometer hit 99 degrees.

Craig has seen temperatures of more than 90 degrees every day, except two, since July 7, NWS senior forecaster Chris Cuoco said.

"It has basically been going up since then," he said. "Right now is probably the best chance to break those records."

But even if the weather service doesn't acknowledge history-making temperatures, residents are feeling the heat.

"It has been real hot," said 13-year-old Blair Gledhill while taking a break at the Craig Swimming Complex on Thursday. "Today, we were playing outside and we decided it was too hot, so we came to the pool."

Across town, friends laughed and splashed in an inflatable pool on a Schrader Avenue lawn. Mom Stephanie Copsa said the children pass the summertime by floating on tubes and jumping in from the side.

"The pool has definitely paid for itself a few times," she said.

Warren Heskett, operator at the Craig water plant, said recreational activities such as these have pushed usage as high as 5 million gallons a day.

"Compared to June, it's close to double," Heskett said.

Homeowners are watering their lawns more, and many people stay inside to stay cool, using water to fuel swamp coolers.

"The heat just wears you out," Heskett said.

Pam Thompson, community relations director for The Memorial Hospital, said the facility has not treated anyone for heat-related illnesses, and she hopes the physicians there won't have to.

Air-conditioning businesses such as Shepherd & Sons are keeping busy trying to keep people cool.

"We've had a lot of calls on cooling, either swamp coolers or central air," bookkeeper Darlene Shepherd said.

She said the company's employees have been continuously on call but are able to handle all the requests. The longest wait anyone has had is two days.

Plus, putting in new air-conditioning systems only takes about four hours, Shepherd said.

While people are staying inside trying to escape the heat, relief may be in sight, said Cuoco. Today's peak is expected to be 94 degrees, with Saturday's high forecast to be near 90.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recently released tips to stay healthy in extreme heat.

They include increasing fluid intake, limiting exercise, staying indoors and taking cool showers or baths. The department also urges people to take part in outdoor activities during the cool times of the day and to avoid leaving children and pets in parked vehicles.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, hats and lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing are also useful for staying cool and averting heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

To keep up with local weather, visit www.nws.noaa.gov/ and search for Craig.

Michelle Perry may be reached at 824-7031 or mperry@craigdailypress/com.

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