Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

City sizzles

Electricity demand rises with heat index

August 30, 2000

Summers heat backfired Sunday afternoon.

Residents of about 1,000 Tonganoxie homes sweated it out for up to two hours while Kansas Power and Light crews worked to restore power.

Mark Schreiber, manager of community relations for KPL, said the power outage came in two parts, starting around 4:30 p.m., Sunday.

We had one outage that consisted of just about 1,000 customers, Schreiber said. They were out for 28 minutes. Within that same general time frame, there were an additional 200 customers out. By 6:30 p.m., everything was fixed.

It was primarily due to the heat-related load on that circuit that caused the breaker to open and they had to switch around some loads to get everybody back on, Schreiber said.

Mike Bartholomees, administrator of Tonganoxie Nursing Center, said the nursing home was included in the power outage.

We have generators that go on automatically when the power goes off, he said. Theyre tested regularly to make sure that it clicks on and it does. It works great, so there was never a hitch.

The same high temperatures that brought on the power outage have been wreaking havoc at Wildhorse Orchard, where sunburned apples are dropping from trees.

All the big ones are laying on the ground, said Perry Walters, who owns and operates the orchard eight miles northwest of Tonganoxie with his wife, Laurie.

The heat wave wont put a stop to apple picking or cider making from now through fall, said Laurie Walters, but it will put a dent in it.

The Walters said the heat wave didnt take them totally unawares.

Its not unusual to have close to 100-degree temperatures around Labor Day in Kansas, Perry Walters said. But this extended heat and drought is unusual.

Until a couple of weeks ago, there didnt seem to be cause for concern.

We had plenty of moisture until the second week of August, Perry Walters said. If the trees were suffering then, I couldnt tell.

With 1,000 trees of various varieties growing in the orchard which was established in 1981, Perry Walters predicted that plenty of apples would stay on the trees through maturity.

Its just that some of them, the ones theyre picking now, have been sunburned and are dotted with orange spots where the sun has hit.

Well put these in the cider box or in a box of seconds for people who want to cook with them, said Laurie Walters.

As she spoke, Laurie Walters sliced three apples, one normal, one slightly sunburned and one more extensively sunburned. The more burned they were, the softer they were on the inside. Drops of sweet juice dripped from all of the apples once they were sliced.

The most noticeable difference in this years apple crop may be color.

When its over 85 degrees, the red color doesnt develop properly, Laurie Walters said.

According to the National Weather Service forecast for area cities, daytime temperatures in Douglas County and Johnson County are expected to peak at 105 degrees today, and then range from 90 to 100 degrees through Saturday.

The Tonganoxie school districts transportation director is encouraging her bus drivers to drink during their drives.

Its definitely been hot out there for the drivers and the students, said Shari Curry, transportation director.

Temperatures in buses that are sitting in the sun before afternoon routes are driven can reach 140 degrees, Curry said.

We usually dont allow drinking on the buses by the drivers or the students, she said.

But thats changed. Both students and drivers are encouraged to drink from plastic water bottles.

Some children, she said, must ride the bus for about an hour, both in the morning and afternoon.

Bus drivers travel about 1,200 miles daily, transporting about 750 children.

Curry, who started driving school buses 30 years ago and has supervised drivers for nearly eight years, said this summers late hot spell is unusual.

Ive never seen it quite this hot, she said. We always have this in August X maybe a week. But it has never been this hot and it has never stayed on this long.

Although the gymnasiums and the kitchen of Tonganoxie Elementary School are not air-conditioned, students have handled the heat well.

Cooks and other food service workers are another matter.

Thats a boiler room in there, said Jerry Daskoski, principal at the school. Thats not air-conditioned to begin with. They start early in the morning for breakfast, and as soon as thats done, theyve got a start on the lunch.

Cooks prepare between 500 and 600 hot lunches at the school.

I dont know how they do it, Daskoski said.

In the multi-purpose room, which serves as the lunchroom and the gymnasium for younger students, school employees run what Daskoski terms a humongous fan.

It sounds like a jet engine, and it circulates the air in there, he said.

On Monday, the principal told staffers to cut short afternoon recesses.

And we do allow our kids to bring water bottles to school when its really warm like this, he said.

Ensuring your body is hydrated is key to avoiding heat-related illnesses, according to Dr. Philip Stevens. The classic symptoms that youve been out in the heat too long: dizziness, weakness, faintness and excessive thirst.

The main thing is to stay as well hydrated as you can, to drink as much fluids as you can, Stevens said.

In addition to water, Stevens recommends sports drinks, such as Gatorade, to replenish salt, potassium and chlorides lost during perspiration.

Of course, you should be in a cool environment as much as possible, he said. If nothing else, stay where theres a breeze or have a fan going.

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