COLUMBIA - The heat index on Tuesday was 108 degrees, and meteorologists expect the stifling weather to stick around.
“There will be no immediate relief,” said Butch Dye, service specialist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis.
• Drink plenty of water, even if you’re not thirsty.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol.
• Stay indoors during mid-afternoon, when it’s the hottest.
• Take regular breaks if physically active, and beware of heat cramps.
• Dress in light colors and lightweight clothes.
• Eat small meals more often.
• Use a hat or umbrella to block the sun.
The excessive heat warning will be in effect until Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
“We are in a large high-pressure area,” Dye said. “There is nothing to stabilize this hang over the area until something comes along to displace the high pressure system.”
Pat Guinan, Missouri state climatologist, said this wave of heat is mild compared with last summer’s sweltering temperatures.
“It hasn’t been nearly as bad as this time last year,” Guinan said. “Columbia had already reached triple-digit temperatures for eight days.”
Ben Miller, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said this summer’s weather has been cooler than average.
“So far this summer, up until the last few days, it’s been relatively mild and cooler than normal,” Miller said. “There was an abnormal weather pattern in place, hence why Texas and Oklahoma had a lot of rain, and that pattern contributed to us not having a tremendous amount of heat.”
After Monday, temperatures are expected to be in the mid-90s, which is considered within normal range.
“The normal high for this time of year is 87 degrees,” Dye said.
The heat can be dangerous for anyone, but senior citizens are at even more of a risk.
“If you have any elderly neighbors or family members, please, please check on them,” said Deidre Wood, a spokeswoman for the Columbia/Boone County Health Department.
Wood said a lot of the medications that seniors take can affect the way their body deals with the heat. The senior center has not seen any heat-related illnesses thus far, but Wood said that as the week progresses, that can change.
Karen Welch, a regular patron of the Oakland Senior Center, has found a new reason to visit every day: the free air conditioning.
Welch discovered Tuesday morning that her window air conditioning unit had broken down.
“I keep it running pretty steadily,” Welch said. “I haven’t turned it off in a month.”
The senior center is also a designated cooling station for the city, where ice water, tea and refreshments are available.
Brenda Woods, Boone County Administrator with Central Missouri Area Agency on Aging (CMAAA), said that her staff has been making calls to their home-bound seniors to make sure that they are feeling well and are comfortable.
One of Woods’ concerns is that lower income seniors may not use their air conditioning because of the expensive utility bills.
“They have fans on, but they are afraid to turn on the air conditioner,” Woods said.
A lot of utility assistance programs, such as Citizens Assisting Seniors and Handicapped (C.A.S.H.), provide one-time emergency assistance to help pay bills.
“A lot of our seniors already used it during the ice storm in the winter,” Woods said.