Hottest days of summer may be over

Tuesday, August 6th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The pools are full. You've got to rush to get the ice cream home before it melts, and don't dare walk on blacktop barefoot.

It's summer in Oklahoma and it's hot.

With reports of 100-degree days and innovative weather technology that measures how much hotter it feels outside, it might not seem like the dog days of summer are on their way out.

But if weather patterns don't change much, temperatures should start cooling down and days of temperatures reaching the century mark could be long gone.

``If all goes according to past averages, we've already passed the hottest part of the summer,'' said Rick Smith, a warning coordinator meteorologist in Norman. ``It's not as significant as it sounds though, we've also had 100 degree days in September.''

Smith is an optimist. He studies record highs and knows that this summer is hot, but Oklahomans aren't getting the heat and drought conditions they have experienced in the last few years.

``At least it didn't start in June,'' Smith said. ``I'm grateful that we've had rain in June and in July. You look outside we don't have the burnt-out yards that we've had in years past.''

Temperatures this summer are below normal, Smith said. The state has yet to have more than a few consecutive days of 100 degree weather.

July is typically the most dangerous months for heat-related deaths. In the last 10 years more than half of all heat related deaths have occurred in July, according to a State Department of Health report.

This year, however, no heat-related deaths have been reported, said Ray Blakeney, director of operations at the state Medical Examiner's Office.

Consecutive days of 100 degree weather are the most dangerous.

From 1990 to 2001, 151 Oklahomans died of heat related complications, according to a Department of Health report.

While temperatures may be milder than usual, heat alerts have been issued this summer.

Tulsa has had three heat alerts in the last week. These are the first heat alerts of the year for the city.

The Emergency Medical Services Authority, which provides ambulance care for Tulsa and Oklahoma City, issues heat alerts after more than five people have been transported to the hospital for heat-related illnesses.

``These heat alerts really work,'' said Tina Wells, director of community relations for EMSA. ``When we call them the night before people are mindful, they stay indoors. This year after issuing heat alerts we don't get ambulance calls for heat related complications.''

Last summer the agency issued several heat alerts, including some that prompted the opening of cooling stations in public buildings.