Icing down the heat

A cold front will move in by Friday, experts say
Wednesday, August 20, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:39 a.m. CDT, Sunday, June 15, 2008

It’s not easy staying cool when the mercury is rising. Not even for the iceman.

  “We’re not wearing ice suits,” said Sean Brown, a Tiger Ice delivery man. “It’s a cooler job, but it’s still an outside job.”

Brown said the stereotype of the ice-delivery guy staying cool even in the middle of a heat wave is not completely accurate.

“It’s ultimately flawed,” Brown said. “The only thing that we have over other people is that we can always crawl in the back of the ice-delivery truck.”

Because the temperature differences on hot days tend to be fearsome, the icemen switch off the refrigerator so they can handle unloading the ice, Brown said. Still, the temperature in the back of the delivery truck is about 13 degrees.

“People think we’re likely to catch a cold,” Brown said. “But we haven’t been affected by that. We’re tough.”

Columbians will only have to tough it out for a couple more days. The National Weather Service in St. Louis reports that the heat is expected to subside by Friday when a cold front moves in from the north. By the weekend, the high temperatures are expected to be in the low- to mid-80s.

The Columbia Water and Light Department issued a peak warning following Monday’s record electrical consumption. After Monday’s high temperature of 101, Tuesday’s high was 100.

“The electrical load is still close to the peak,” said Tad Johnson, Power Production Superintendent at the Water and Light Department.

And although the icemen can handle the heat, sometimes the pavement cannot.

Monday, a two-lane segment of road buckled on South Providence, a road that handles more than 10,000 vehicles a day.

“Concrete can only expand so much before it has to give,” said Randy Greer, maintenance supervisor with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

A crew was dispatched Monday afternoon to patch the troubled segment of road after motorists reported the problem.

“The repairs needed depend on the severity of the buckling,” said Greer, who supervises the MoDOT fifth district, including Boone County. “Sometimes we can just scrape the loose part off the top with a sorter and apply a temporary patch. Other times we have to jackhammer them out.”

Monday’s incident was not severe and was quickly fixed. However, buckling can cause severe problems and dangerous driving conditions.

“The buckling can cause accidents, usually blowouts. Sometimes the

reinforcement wires will be exposed and damage tires,” Greer said. “Highway 63 between Columbia and Jefferson City is our worst problem.”

The heat can also be grueling on work crews, however, City of Columbia Public Works Street Superintendent Tim McKinnon said only “one to two” crew members have had problems with overheating.

“They do a good job of keeping an eye on each other. They’re sure not to let anyone pass out and fall into the road or anything,” he said.

Susan Even, director of MU Student Health, said drinking plenty of fluids is the key to avoiding heat-related problems.

“Take in extra fluids and avoid excess exertion,” she said. “Drink lots of water before you go out, while you are out, and when you get back in.”

Julie Mette can help with that. She sells cold items such as drinks and ice cream outside of Jesse Hall. Sales have been booming the past two days.

“They went up quite a bit (Monday). I was completely out of drinks and water.”

Missourian reporters Christina Caron and Florence Kizza contributed

to this report.

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