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Beaufort was hottest place in US over Memorial Day weekend. When will we get a break?

Staying safe in hot temperatures

Some parts of the country are seeing dangerously high temperatures and as the mercury rises, so does the risk of heat-related illness. An emergency department doctor has tips on how to stay safe in the heat.
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Some parts of the country are seeing dangerously high temperatures and as the mercury rises, so does the risk of heat-related illness. An emergency department doctor has tips on how to stay safe in the heat.

You weren’t imagining things over Memorial Day weekend: Beaufort was the hottest place in the country.

And the unusually early heat wave is expected to continue in the area at least through Thursday, forecasters say.

“It’s going to be hot, and hot for awhile,” said Neil Dixon, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort recorded temperatures of 103 degrees on Sunday and Monday. That was the highest recorded temperature in the United States from Sunday afternoon through early Monday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

The high temperature was matched by Walterboro in South Carolina and in Georgia at Fort Stewart, Hinesville and near Darien.

By 8 p.m. Monday, multiple locations in Texas recorded the highest national temps at 109.

Record high daily temperatures were recorded Sunday and Monday at airports in Savannah and Charleston, where typical temperatures this time of year are in the mid-80s. The 102-degree mark in Savannah on Sunday is also a record for the month of May.

Savannah recorded three consecutive days of at least 100 degrees through Monday and was forecast for a fourth on Tuesday. The record for Savannah is five consecutive days of 100-degree weather in 1986 and 1879 — and that was in July.

“Here we are breaking those records or challenging those records in late May,” Dixon said. “It’s pretty unusual.”

“Unseasonably hot” weather was expected to continue in the area Tuesday, with temperatures in the Lowcountry reaching 100 to 102 degrees, the National Weather Service said. Record or near-record temperatures are expected to last through Thursday, with a heat index that could approach 105 degrees.

The Charleston airport matched the record high for the date of 97 degrees just after noon on Tuesday and was expected to climb. The previous highs were recorded during the 1960s.

The prolonged heat can be attributed to a warm air mass blanketing the Southeast and a dry atmosphere with little cloud cover, Dixon said. Temperatures could dip slightly with more clouds in the forecast by the end of the week but are still expected to be in the mid-90s, he said.

The heat wave is spawning public safety bulletins from local governments and emergency agencies.

Beaufort firefighters responded to less than a handful of heat-related calls during the weekend, and none on Memorial Day, Beaufort-Port Royal Fire Chief Reece Bertholf said. The weekend is typically responsible for an increase in calls regardless of the high temperatures because of the extra activity of the holiday, he said.

Bertholf, who walked in the city’s annual Memorial Day parade, said people should allow time to adjust when planning to spend much time outside, moderate activity, seek shade, and recognize and address signs of heat stress.

Check on neighbors who are without air conditioning and make sure box fans are surge protected, he added.

“Keep drinking water, that’s the biggest precaution an individual can take,” Bertholf said. “Hydrate often and hydrate with water.”

Stephen Fastenau covers northern Beaufort County as a reporter for The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet, where he has worked since 2010 and been recognized with state and national awards. He studied journalism and political science at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and lives in Beaufort.
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