'It's been a hot year'

Zoe Greszler • Updated Sep 7, 2018 at 7:58 AM

After several days of sweltering heat, area residents enjoyed some relief with cooler weather Thursday.

It won’t last, however. Forecasters are calling for a return of higher temperatures by next weekend.

So far this year, Norwalk has seen 26 days reaching 90 degrees or above, including the first four days of September, according to the city’s wastewater treatment plant — the official record-keeper for temperatures and precipitation in the Maple City.

July saw the most extreme temperatures with 10 days soaring into the 90s, followed by August with 6. 

While none of these 90-degree days set any records, the heat was turned on early this year. May saw three days that hit at least 90 degrees, and February saw two temperature records eclipsed.

On Feb. 19, the temperature peaked at 67, breaking the 1930 record of one degree. The following day got up to 74, breaking the 67-degree record also set in 1930. It represented the second-straight year that February had a 70-degree day.

Since June 1 the average temperature has been about 3 degrees above normal, said Tyler Roys, an AccuWeather meteorologist.

“It doesn’t seem like too much, but it is and does tell us it's been a hot year,” he said.

“It’s not unusual to see temperatures in the 90s in the summer time, but I think what made it feel hotter was just how oppressively muggy it's been, having dew points (nearly) every single day in the 70s. You walk out there and you just start sweating and you're thinking, 'Why am I out here?' essentially. That’s because of the dew point being in the 70s.”

The heat has caused many to crank their air-conditioning systems to full blast, causing Firelands Electric Co-op to issue peak alerts. During those times, the electric company decreases the amount of power an electric hot water heater or A/C can use for a few hours, in an effort to decrease the amount of power being used across the area, state or, in some cases, the nation.

Andrea Gravenhorst, director of member services and communications at Firelands Electric, said when a peak alert is issued, it typically is in effect for peak times.

“Peak times are between 2 to 6 p.m. but with the heat recently, we’ve been going into 7 p.m. the past few times,” she said, adding the company already issued two peak alerts this week and three last week. Having so many peak alerts, especially in a short time frame, is unusual, Gravenhorst said.

“We’ve had this before,” she said. “It’s been several years ago, though. It’s just that it’s kind of caught up to us now.” 

Local residents should enjoy the break in the hot weather while it lasts. Roys said the heat will return next weekend. There is good news, though — neither the temperatures nor the dew points will be quite as high.

“We’ll be more in the 80s, maybe we’ll reach 90, 91 — especially in those warmer areas at the end of September or early October,” he said. “I’d say we could see temperatures in the 90s maybe two or three times the rest of month. But humidity should not reach the oppressive levels that we have been experiencing. It won't feel like it's 100 degrees outside.”

There are ways to help reduce energy consumption and keep energy bills down. 

“Generally, as far as what we advise the general public, is when peak alerts are announced, energy conservation is critical. That’s typically going to happen between 2 and 7 p.m., and during those times everyone can practice a few simple conservation methods,” Gravenhorst said.

Firelands Electric’s tips include:

• Decrease use of electric — hold off on making dinner until after 7 p.m.

• Increasing your thermostat by four degree

• Delay household chores, such as running dishwasher or vacuum or doing laundry, until after 7 p.m.

• Run a ceiling fan — costs a lot less than using an air conditioner 

• Draw shades or blinds to help keep the heat out

“One thing we really stress is to make sure your A/C filters are clean for peak efficiency,” she said. “We run into that a lot with people who have pets and their filters are filled with pet hair. I always tell people a clogged filter is like trying to breath in heavily with your hand over your mouth. … It’s very important that the filters are cleaned regularly.”

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