The heat is on: Summer temps kick off holiday weekend
NEW LONDON — Less than a month ago there was still ice on many area lakes.
But Thursday — as a five day stretch of 90-degree weather kicked off — Lake Andrew was full of kids swimming at the Sibley State Park beach.
"It's cold when you first get in, but you get used to it," said Charissa Davis, 11, of Willmar, as she floated in the lake with friends from the Grace Homeschool Cooperative.
Lakes — or any place with an air conditioner — will likely be popular places during the Memorial Day holiday weekend as temperatures get stuck in overdrive.
Having a 90-degree day the end of May isn't unusual, said Michelle Margraf, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
"But what is unusual is for it to last for so many days," she said.
The last time there were four consecutive days of 90-degree weather at the end of May was in 1988. There was a significant drought that year all across the U.S, including Minnesota.
But this May there is the potential to have five days in a row of 90-degree weather.
"That's unprecedented," Margraf said.
In their hazardous weather statement, the National Weather Service said the warm temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a heightened risk for heat illnesses, especially for those who are active or working outdoors.
Keeping cool and keeping hydrated will be important for people of all ages during this hot-streak, said Dr. Maria Loerzel, a physician with Family Practice Medical Center in Willmar.
"Just be smart about it. Hydrate and pay attention to how you're feeling," she said.
People who are experiencing headaches, are tired and "just not feeling well" should get out of the heat, get to a place where there's air conditioning and drink water.
Applying ice packs and cool washcloths or using fans that spray a mist of water can also help, but Loerzel said medical attention should be sought if conditions don't improve.
For people who are working or playing outdoors, she recommends wearing light-colored clothing and sunscreen and drinking lots of water before, during and after being outside.
Knowing that it's hard to get kids to stop playing, she said parents should encourage children to take breaks from the heat.
Because alcohol is a diuretic, Loerzel said people who drink too much are "more prone to heat exhaustion and heat stroke" and should drink twice as much water as alcohol.
Pets also need adequate water, opportunities to escape from the heat and should never be left alone inside vehicles, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Tender flowers, vegetables and trees that have been recently transplanted will also need extra water during the hot spell, said Tom Wall, from Tom's South Spicer Nursery.
"Just keep an eye on the dirt and the leaves," Wall said.
Because roots aren't established yet in the new transplants, Wall said plants may have to be watered twice a day.
Moving pots of flowers to the shade and putting mulch around vegetables can help keep plants healthy during the heat.
"If they've got water, they should be just fine," Wall said. "It's a good learning curve for these plants. They need to get going."
The campsites at Sibley State Park are booked up and park staff are prepared for the campers and the heat.
The beach store is "stocked and ready to rock with ice and ice cream," said Colin Wright, assistant park manager.
"There's always a concern for heat stroke for people who aren't used to the heat so far this year," he said. That goes for visitors to the park and park staff who are working outdoors to maintain the grounds and facilities.
Tents and campers were already showing up Thursday for the long hot weekend.
"Any camper that has an air conditioner that works will be running," Wright said.
Others may rely on the lake.
"Water will be fairly cool," he said. "It would be too cold for me."