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Hazardous heat predicted in Tri-Lakes

A lifeguard watches over the Lake Colby beach during a heat wave in Saranac Lake in July 2023. (Enterprise photo — Arthur Maiorella)

Extreme heat is expected to descend upon New York state this week, with temperatures in the Tri-Lakes predicted to top 93 degrees on Tuesday and remain in the 80s or 90s until at least this weekend. These will be the warmest values Saranac Lake has seen since 1988.

“Extreme heat” is a designation, different than a hot summer week or even a regular heat wave. It means that there are expected to be two to three days in a row with predicted temperatures over 90 degrees and intense humidity. Extreme heat is the number one weather-related cause of death in the country, and there has been a steady rise in heat-related deaths over the past few years. 2023 had the highest number of heat-related deaths ever recorded with 2,302, up from 1,722 in 2022 and 1,602 in 2021.

The National Weather Service’s Burlington, Vermont forecast office said Sunday that the combination of high temperatures and high dewpoints in this region will likely result in weather conditions that feel like 100 degrees or more on Tuesday through Thursday. Temperatures are not expected to dip significantly enough during the night to effectively cool the area off.

“Saranac Lake broke a daily record low this morning, and many are in the 40s to start today. But by Tuesday, some areas will likely see hot conditions known to be deadly,” the Burlington office wrote on its Facebook page Sunday. “Use today’s pleasant conditions to plan how to beat the heat coming up this week.”

The post warned that people will likely be more sensitive to this heat due to last week’s relatively low temperatures for June, making hydration and cooling breaks all the more important.

While the Burlington forecast office generally looks seven days ahead in its forecasts, the NWS’s Climate Prediction Center does a three-month outlook.

“They’re leaning towards higher potential for a warmer-than-normal summer,” said Jessica Storm, a forecaster at the Burlington office. “The probability of above-normal temperatures (is) about 50 to 60%.”

Storm said the NWS can’t speak to what changes might happen in weather patterns in the long term, though past data has shown that temperatures are on the rise.

“The general trend with climate change is, the increasing temperatures refers to the overall temperature increase. But, we’ve seen a trend in warmer conditions throughout the years here in the Adirondacks as well. I can’t say it’s a direct correlation, but in general, there’s the trend of increasing temperatures,” she said.

Staying cool

Gov. Kathy Hochul spoke about the dangers of extreme heat in Syracuse on Friday.

“No matter what your health is, no matter what age you are, where you live, there are going to be dangers for extreme heat and weather beginning immediately,” she said.

To avoid a fatal encounter with extreme heat, try to stay out of the sun from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Strenuous outdoor activities like hiking and biking should be scheduled for cooler morning or evening hours, though even then, it’s likely to be uncomfortably and sometimes dangerously hot.

While outdoors, wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Wear sunscreen to prevent severe sunburn.

Hydration is key to prevent heat-related illness and death. Caffeine and alcohol are dehydrating; try to stick to water. While working in extreme heat, people should drink one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes, even if they do not feel thirsty. Hydrating at short, regular intervals is more effective than large, infrequent hydration breaks.

Pet safety

Never leave children or pets alone in a vehicle. Even with car windows down, a car’s internal temperature can shoot up by 20 degrees in as little as 10 minutes.

High humidity can be especially dangerous for pets, according to the Humane Society of the United States. It can hamper animals’ ability to pant, which cools their bodies, and can cause their body temperatures to rise to unsafe levels. Dogs should exercise in the early morning or evening on days with extreme heat, as asphalt can get hot enough to burn pets’ paws. Dog owners should carry water on them during walks and be especially careful with short-nosed breeds like pugs and bulldogs who may struggle to breathe.

Signs of heatstroke in pets include heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, fever, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure and unconsciousness. To immediately treat heat stroke in a pet, move them to an air-conditioned area and apply ice packs or cold towels to them. Pets suffering from heat stroke should be taken to the veterinarian.

Cooling centers

Most towns in the area have designated cooling centers where people can safely get out of the heat. In areas without a municipal cooling center, the state Department of Health recommends libraries, supermarkets, malls and community swimming pools or beaches as places to cool down.

In Saranac Lake, the Saranac Lake Adult Center at 135 Broadway functions as an emergency shelter and cooling center. It will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the heat wave.

Tupper Lake has a few places that can function cooling centers, including the Adirondack Adult Center at 179 Demars Blvd., the town offices at 120 Demars Blvd. and the Holy Ghost Parish Center at 40 Marion St.

In Lake Placid, the official cooling center is the Lake Placid Public Library at 2471 Main St., which is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. It will be closed on Wednesday, June 19, due to Juneteenth. On that day, the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena at the Lake Placid Olympic Center will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. as a cooling center.

In Wilmington, the E.M. Cooper Memorial Public Library at 5751 state Route 86 is the cooling center. It’ll be open from 12 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

In Jay, there are two cooling centers. The first is the AuSable Forks Free Library at 9 Church Lane, which will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Upper Jay Wells Memorial Library at 12230 state Route 9N will also be open as a cooling center. Its hours are 12 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

In Keene, there is no building that meets the criteria for an official cooling center, but town Supervisor Joe Pete Wilson Jr. said that the Keene Public Library at 10928 state Route 9N will be open open as an “unofficial” cooling center. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

UPDATE: This article has been updated to include Lake Placid’s official cooling center, which had not been designated by press time Sunday but has since been designated.

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