Central Oklahoma is sweating out the earliest heat alert on record.
The season's first heat alert began Sunday after an ambulance raced an overheated metro-area mother and baby to a hospital, hitting the Emergency Medical Services Authority heat alert benchmark of at least five heat-related calls over 24 hours.
Until Sunday, the earliest alerts issued were on June 19, 2002, and June 23, 2009.
"You look at the forecast, and it's ominous,” EMSA spokeswoman Lara O'Leary said.
O'Leary said she just hopes temperatures and EMSA calls will drop enough to lift the alert before it drags on beyond the record longest alert of just over a week.
The temperatures are running about seven degrees hotter than normal for this time of year. The average high is 84 degrees, and the low should be 63 degrees, said Rick Smith, forecaster with the National Weather Service in Norman. But Wednesday's high was 92 degrees, and the low was 72 degrees.
The hot, dry weather pattern looks like it will be around for the next week, Smith said. But the heat index, or how hot it feels based on temperature and humidity, would have to reach about 105 degrees and the nighttime temperatures would have to be no lower than 75 or 80 degrees before the weather service would issue a weather alert.
"We haven't gotten to the point yet where we have even come close to the criteria for issuing a heat alert,” Smith said.
The EMSA heat alert seemed the furthest thing from roofer Johan Orzco's mind as he tossed pieces of old shingles in a bin in The Village area. The 21-year-old worked quickly in jeans and a black T-shirt with the sleeves pushed above his elbows.
"Every day is hot,” he said. "At maybe 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., the sun is low, and that's when it is good to be on the roof.”
He said he combats the heat by drinking four to six liters of water or energy drinks during the day.
"I don't care,” Orzco shot over his shoulder as he hurried back to work. "I like it.”
Heat hits kids hard
Adults who work outside get acclimatized to the heat. But young children especially can be at risk on hot days, said Dr. Mark Fergeson, a pediatrician with OU Health Sciences Center.
"The fact that it has been hotter earlier and especially combined with the humidity, we certainly see an increased risk,” Fergeson said.
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