Little relief in sight from heat

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 18, 2015

The first day of summer isn’t until Sunday, but scorching temperatures already are in full blast in Georgia and no relief is in sight.

The mercury reached 97 Tuesday and Wednesday at LaGrange-Callaway Airport, and today’s forecast high of 98 would tie the record for the date set in 1950. Heat index values make it feel much hotter – well past 100 degrees.

The outlook for Troup County for the next seven days is repetitious: sunny skies, highs in the upper 90s, lows in the mid-70s. Those are well above the normal extremes for this time of year of 88 and 65.

There is a chance of rain tonight, but it isn’t likely to ease the heat.

The rest of Georgia also has been sweltering. Parts of the state were under a heat advisory Wednesday as temperatures climbed into the upper 90s in large parts of the state, with heat index values soaring to around 105 degrees. The advisory was in place across central and south Georgia, including Athens, Columbus, Macon, Statesboro and Vidalia.

The National Weather Service projected high temperatures of around 100 degrees across south Georgia, including the Dublin and Hinesville areas. Highs were expected to reach the upper 90s elsewhere.

In Atlanta, officials announced the opening of three cooling stations. Nearly a dozen city pools were also free, and the Atlanta fire department was offering free bottled water at all its stations.

In the Augusta area, Richmond and Columbia counties also had cooling centers open.

“We do it every summer – June 1 through the end of September – so that any time during that time period that we have a heat wave like we are having right now that people don’t have to think twice,” said Pam Tucker, director of the Columbia County Emergency Management Agency. “They already know where they are and what the accommodations are.”

In Valdosta, the Mathis City Auditorium, a parks and recreation facility and a senior citizens’ center were open during the week for residents needing to escape the heat.

The heat comes as Georgia Power’s electricity rates are set to rise during the summer months.

A customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours per month will pay about 20 percent more per month during the summer than in other months, the Georgia Public Service Commission estimates.

“Summer rates are higher than the rest of the year because it is the peak season and energy is a lot more expensive to produce,” said John Kraft, a spokesman for Georgia Power.