The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Heat wave to hit peak over weekend
BY LINDLEY ESTES
Just as Fredericksburg-area residents recovered from last weekend’s storm-induced power outages, the ongoing heat wave is reaching a peak.
Friday’s high temperature at Stafford Regional Airport topped out at 98, with a heat index of 104; while the University of Mary Washington weather station in Fredericksburg reported high of 95.
The National Weather Service forecast for the area calls for Saturday to be sunny and hot, with a high near 101, and a heat index as high as 112.
And despite a chance of showers and thunderstorms on Sunday afternoon, the forecast calls for the high to be near 100, with a heat index of up to 109.
This hot weekend follows four days of above 90 degree heat in the area. The string of over-90 temperatures nearly hit nine straight days, but last Monday’s high temperature broke the streak by only reaching 89.
Some area residents are still without electricity after last Friday night’s “derecho” storms.
One is Jen Latendresse, who lives in an apartment on Grove and Franklin streets in Fredericksburg. She said she’s lucky to be able to go to her parents house in Stafford to cool down.
“I just really want to go home, though,” she said.
Her next door neighbor Darvin Walter, who propped his window and door open to catch what little breeze there was on Friday, said he’s doing as little as possible to stay cool.
“I no longer have any family in the area I can go camp out with,” he said. “I’m just sitting around. I’ve got a cool beverage.”
Walter said that the power is not the problem in their building.
“The question is with the electrician now,” he said. “A tree went through the roof of an apartment and the electricians have to sort out the wiring. They said it would be tomorrow, but it’s Saturday and we live in the South, so who knows.”
Walter’s orange tabby cat Montgomery is also attempting to keep cool.
“He’s just flopping around,” Walter said.
Debbie McInnis, a spokeswoman for Mary Washington Healthcare, said that the Fredericksburg hospital has not seen a major increase in emergency room traffic related to heat.
“There is one or two as would be expected,” she said. “We do know that the weekend will be very hot. All emergency rooms are prepared and ready to take on as many people that come in.”
Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center reported seven heat-related illnesses in the emergency room since Monday and cautioned people to stay hydrated and indoors.
The heat is affecting businesses too.
The Fredericksburg farmer’s market at Hurkamp Park will close at noon on Saturday because of the extreme weather. Market managers advise shoppers to come early.
Roxbury Farm & Garden Center in Fredericksburg is also experiencing adverse effects from the heat.
Owner Andy Lynn said they are watering plants about twice as often as they normally would.
“It’s sort of like triage for plants,” he said.
Lynn said that the heat is as taxing on plants as people.
“They’re stressing out,” he said. “And then they’re more prone to disease, more insects. It just creates more problems.”
Lynn also said that business was less busy than normal.
“We’re steady but it’s been off,” he said. “But my experience has been that every business is less busy when it’s 100 degrees. There are just not as many leisurely shopping.”
The city will not open any cooling shelters over the weekend. Victor Podbielski, deputy emergency management coordinator, said the largest population at risk is the homeless and that need is taken care of by area homeless shelters.
Micah Ecumenical Ministries director Meghann Cotter said they have been watching the situation closely.
Last weekend with the power out, Micah let the homeless take showers at the ministry’s hospitality center, so they could get out of the heat. That’s something the organization doesn’t normally do.
Volunteers also opened the community dinners earlier and closed them later. During these extended hours, they had projects for the homeless to do.
“It gives them something productive,” she said. “They have something to do and don’t have to go out into the heat.”
Pat Holland, senior services coordinator for the Rappahannock Area Agency in Aging, said it is important for the elderly to stay inside, keep air conditioning on, drink lots of water and set up a network of people checking on each other.
“It’s really a couple of days to hang out and let it pass,” she said.
RAAA’s Fan Care program, which donates fans to elderly residents without air conditioning, has not had many requests for fans this summer. So far, they have only given out 10.
“I don’t think people, especially the 60 and older public know that there is a Fan Care program,” she said.
Other localities are also responding to the hot and dry conditions.
Orange County has opened a cooling shelter at the Orange Rescue Squad building from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in anticipation of the weekend’s extreme
Stafford County closed its cooling shelters on Thursday, but is still giving out gallons of water at fire and rescue stations.
The county also asked that residents voluntarily not use water outdoors to make sure they can treat and distribute the high demand for water.
Lake of the Woods’ annual July 4th celebration, scheduled for the Saturday closest to the 4th, has been modified for the expected heat this weekend. The parade and flag raising in the morning will continue in the eastern Orange community as scheduled, but other activities during the hottest part of the day have been cancelled, said LOW General Manager Phil Rodenberg.
“The withering heat we will be experiencing led us to decide to cancel the Clubhouse Point activities and the band performance,” he said.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976