And the heat goes on


HotWeatherDryCornDR210 Marion County residents know that summer is supposed to be hot, but many weren?t expecting July to rival some of worst heat on record.

According to the National Weather Service office in Wichita, Marion County and surrounding areas experienced 29 days of triple-digit temperatures in June and July?with July still last a few more days.

Brandon Sullivan, a student meteorologist at NWS in Wichita, said average temperatures this month make it the third highest in recorded history.

The average July high in 1980 was 104.9 degrees, he said, with 102.6 in 1954 and 101.2 in 2011.

June also ranked among the top three years for days over 100 degrees with 11.

?Only two years had more days, 1953 with 12 days and 1933 with 13 days,? Sullivan said.

Even though temperatures were slightly lower early this week, Sullivan said Wednesday is expected to hit 106, followed by more triple-digits days.

Burn ban continues

Excessive heat and drought conditions prompted Marion County commissioners to enact a burn ban last week.

Ben Steketee, fire chief in Hillsboro, said the ban was put in place after commissioners asked for input about conditions from county fire chiefs.

?We look at the condition of the grass, crops and trees and what our experience has been with recent fires,? he said. ?The (Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs) does not make the recommendation.?

Steketee added the commissioners also consider the economic impact of implementing a burn ban.

?Some farmers and ranchers depend on burning their land to boost production,? he said.

Dan D?Albini, county director of emergency management, said that as long as it stays hot with no measurable rain, a burn ban will be in effect.

Cool shelter available

As director, D?Albini said his job is to protect people and property through the use of preparedness, planning, training, mitigation and response.

?Anyone working outside needs to take lots of breaks, drink fluids and find shade or air conditioning (when possible),? he said.

He also suggested people dress light and keep skin covered because skin heats up faster when exposed to the sun.

?Animals need shade just as much as people,? he said.

D?Albini said he has only received word of one heat-related illness to date.

?Elderly people get cold so easy,? he said, ?and if it?s 95 degrees or higher and someone hasn?t seen their neighbor, maybe check on them.?

D?Albini said his office can offer daytime cooling shelters if anyone requests that service.

?We haven?t had any requests yet, but we can provide this help,? he said.

Marion County towns

In addition to affecting crops, livestock and grasslands, the effect of the oppressive heat can be seen on residential and commercial electric and water bills, along with changes in some work schedules.

Doug Kjellin, Marion city administrator, said city crews are starting work at 6 a.m., taking a 30-minute lunch and finishing by 2:30 p.m. The change is not reducing the effectiveness of city employees, he said.

For many in Marion, the heat will result in higher electric and water bills.

?From the June 17 reading of daily power use through July 17, we had a 31 percent increase in usage,? Kjellin said.

The city?s water plant is pumping an average of 400,000 gallons of water a day, and the water towers are topped off, Kjellin said.

As long as Marion Reservoir doesn?t dip below 80 percent capacity, he said, the city won?t be forced to implement its emergency water plan.

Kjellin said he hopes people will begin conserving now and avoid a problem before it happens. He strongly recommends residents curtail some outdoor water use, wash full loads of laundry and not let faucets run needlessly.

Limit use at peak times

Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine is urging residents to skip major electric usage between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

?The key reason,? he said, ?is that during those hours of the day people are getting home and turning on the air conditioning, stove, washer and increasing the peak load.?

By trimming back on electrical appliances during those times, Paine said it will help save everyone money in the long haul.

?We are billed by wholesale electric providers, and the high usage affects purchasing patterns and rates,? he said.

Pool attendance down

Mac Manning, Peabody?s city administrator, said whenever it?s over 100 degrees, attendance at the pool actually goes down.

?The water is about bath water temperature,? he said.

In this extreme heat, Man?ning encouraged employees to take breaks as part of the city?s heat policy safety plan.

Voluntary water cut back

Goessel City Clerk Anita Goertzen said citizens are going to be asked to voluntarily decrease usage when watering lawns and flowers.

?At this point, our pumps at the wells are running 20 to 24 hours a day,? she said. ?We have asked major users of water for irrigation to reduce and stagger their watering times, which has seemed to help.?

After talking with some residents, Goertzen said the heat is playing havoc with gardens.

?Some of the tomato plants look good,? she said, ?but they aren?t bearing fruit, or the fruits and vegetables are burning and splitting from the heat.?

Florence passes resolution

Janet Robinson, Florence city clerk, said the council recently passed a water emergency plan that could be implemented at any time.

Even though gardens are doing well, Robinson said that could change if the emergency water plan goes into effect.

?It?s just way too hot outside,? she said. ?Maybe if we could see cooler temperatures in the near future, it would help the mood of people.?

Burns restricts water

Burns City Clerk Carol Callahan said the city has banned lawn watering or washing cars until conditions change.

In Ramona, city officials said they haven?t received word of any water restrictions, but if that did happen it would come from Rural Water District 1.

Elderly residents in all Marion County towns are looked after, but in Ramona, officials said regular check-ins happen to make sure everyone is accounted for.

?This happens no matter what the weather,? one Ramona woman said.

In Goessel, Goertzen said being a small community, most people are aware and watch out for their neighbors if they haven?t seen someone for awhile.

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