Summer sizzle: Potential record heat in forecast for Beaufort County

gmartin@islandpacket.comJune 28, 2012 

  • Daily record highs, Beaufort County:

    June 29: 100 (1977)

    June 30: 100 (1986)

    July 1: 98 (1990)

    July 2: 99 (1986)

    Source: The Weather Channel

Goodbye June, hello July. Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

The new month will be ushered in this weekend by what might be the hottest temperatures on record in Beaufort County, part of a heat wave affecting nearly the entire eastern half of the country.

Predictions for the coming days vary. The National Weather Service forecasts highs in the upper-90s this weekend, while another national forecasting service, Weather Underground, predicts local thermometers will hit triple digits today through Monday.

Julie Packett of the National Weather Service office in Charleston says the searing temperatures are brought on by a combination of winds carrying hot air from the west and high pressure building in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby to the east.

"It's quite possible that we'll see some records," she said.

Don't expect those breezes off the Atlantic to offer any respite.

"The sea breezes could bring in moist air, which would drive the heat indices even higher," Packett said.

John Koch of the National Weather Service eastern regional headquarters in New York said the effects of the heat will be exacerbated by the proximity to the June 20 summer solstice, meaning the sun's rays are hitting the area more directly than they will later in the season.

In anticipation of the sweltering conditions, Palmetto Electric Cooperative released a statement Thursday warning customers "they will likely see an increase in their electric bills as a result of the extreme heat."

To help keep costs low, the utility company advises customers to set thermostats at 78 degrees, explaining that for every degree below that setting, consumers add about 8 percent to their cooling costs.

The company also advises increased use of ceiling or portable fans and keeping drapes and blinds closed.

Jason Wright, a physician's assistant at Beaufort Primary Care, advised people heading outdoors this weekend to drink plenty of liquids.

"Proper hydration is a priority," he said. It's also imperative to apply plenty of sunblock and don a hat.

He said the elderly are especially vulnerable to such harsh conditions, but they're not alone.

"A lot of folks coming down from the north to vacation here aren't prepared for this weather," he said. "They're just not used to the kind of heat and humidity we have down here."

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