Heat tying and setting records in Oklahoma

Tuesday, August 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The heat has dried lawns, made some people sick and even forced a central Oklahoma law officer to write himself a ticket.

El Reno Police Chief Steve Almon left a water hose running on a tree at his home overnight on Aug. 19. The well-watered tree will cost him $207.

"It was really embarrassing," Almon said Monday. "I felt bad about wasting the water."

El Reno is under a mandatory water-rationing plan that allows people to water between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Those with even numbered addresses get to water on even-numbered calendar days, while those with odd-numbered addresses may water on odd-numbered calendar days. No one can water on Sunday.

The extreme heat has forced officials in other communities to not how much water is being used.

Oklahoma City officials said the 177 million gallons of water residents used on Sunday set an all-time high.

"We can easily do 190 million gallons a day, but we have never been there before," said Jim Couch, the assistant city manager who oversees water operations.

"We may be able to go 200 million, but I think we are going to start going down again."

Forecasters have predicted the stubborn heat wave will continue this week. While the state Medical Examiner's office reports no heat-related deaths, three people were treated Monday in Tulsa for heat-related illnesses, including a 17-year-old high school athlete.

The teen was taken from his home to a hospital after he apparently became overheated during practice at school, Emergency Medical Service Authority reports showed.

The other heat victims were a 70-year-old male and a 60-year-old female, officials said.

Reaching or surpassing 100 degrees for a high temperature has been routine in the state for weeks. Oklahoma City tied a 16-year-old record when Monday's daytime high climbed to 103 degrees, the same high recorded in Tulsa.

Other temperatures ranged from 100 degrees in Guymon to 107 degrees in Bartlesville, the National Weather Service reported. The extended forecast calls for temperatures to cool in some spots to the middle 90s, but many areas will still see triple-digit heat.

Officials also are concerned with how dry it has been. If no rain falls in the city by Thursday, the city will have its driest August since record-keeping began in 1890, the weather Service said.

Tulsa could be seeing its second-driest August in history, with only .01 inches of rain being recorded at Tulsa International Airport this month. McAlester has only seen .01 inches of rain, too, which is well below the 3.05 inches to which the southeast Oklahoma community is accustomed.

The hot, dry conditions also have resulted in a burn ban for all but six of Oklahoma's 77 counties.

Forecasters have said there are some indications of relief next week.

That couldn't come soon enough for Almon, whose wife noticed the running hose before they went to church.

"This is the first time I have had to write myself a ticket. I hope it is the last."

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