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There were no guided hikes at Starved Rock State Park today, only a warning to the daring souls who like it hot: Carry plenty of water and hike at your own risk.
Monday happens to be the day when Starved Rock doesn’t have guided hikes, which was good timing: A red-alert combination of heat and humidity has led to warnings for people to stay indoors.
Jolyn Wise, natural resources coordinator for Starved Rock, said today she’s betting the trails wouldn’t stay empty despite the heat. Sunday was also witheringly hot, she said, yet the trails were trampled by 2,000 people undeterred by weather — like her.
“I don’t really mind the heat too much,” Wise said. “That doesn’t bother me.”
Well, it bothers educators and physicians enough that schools are dismissing early and hospitals are warning residents to watch for heat exhaustion.
The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory through 10 p.m. today for North Central Illinois. Temperatures are forecast to peak at about 93 degrees but crushing humidity will make it feel like 109 degrees.
La Salle-Peru Township High School isn’t built for that kind of heat and planned to dismiss at 9:45 a.m.
“We’re going to be letting out at the end of second period because of humidity and condensation issues in the building,” L-P spokesman Matthew Baker said. “We’ll be monitoring conditions for tomorrow but there’s no decision yet.”
Peru Elementary announced early dismissals of 2, 2:05 and 2:15 p.m. respectively for Parkside, Washington and Northview schools — the same schedule run last week — though the district still planned, as of this morning, to hold any scheduled extracurricular activities.
Similarly, Waltham schools will send their kids home early even though students at Waltham South have air-conditioning. Waltham North, which has no a/c, was to dismiss first at 1:30 p.m. Waltham South was to follow at 1:45 p.m.
Illinois Valley Community Hospital in Peru is expecting visitors today, both walk-ins and on stretchers.
The IVCH cafeteria has been opened to the public as a cooling center and one of the emergency room doctors is braced for a long day of people having trouble staying cool and having trouble breathing.
“We do anticipate heat-related emergencies, and I can tell you this morning we had four people come in for shortness of breath related to asthma,” Dr. Serge Golber said. “We have a combination of very high particle count, related to farming, and heat and high moisture, which makes a perfect storm for asthmatics.
“My advice to everyone is to stay indoors and in the air-conditioning and to avoid any trips outside until it gets better — and if they experience shortness of breath to come see us.”
That we’re suffering today is, frankly, because we’re just not used to it. Today is only the second day of 90 degrees or higher in the month of August and only the third since July 1, according to The Weather Channel’s website.
The good news is today’s spike will be relatively short-lived, with temperatures expected to drop 8 precious points Tuesday to a more manageable high of 86 degrees.
Thereafter, temperatures will trend downward (except Friday: 87 degrees) into the upper 70s and low 80s with plenty of rain forecast.
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NT_Court.