Village Life

Well? Was it hot enough for ya?

Was it hot out this summer? Or was it just me?

Okay, it was hot out, but maybe not as hot as you think. According to Dayton-area statistics from the National Weather Service, or NWS, in Wilmington, 2010 shaped up as the 12th hottest summer since record keeping began132 years ago. In 2010 there were 16 summer days with heat of 90 degrees or warmer, compared to four above-90 days in 2009, two in 2008 and 19 in 2007. The average monthly temperatures this year were 73.3 in June, compared to 70.2 a year ago; 76.4 in July, compared to 74.3 a year ago; and 75.8 in August, compared to 72.3 a year ago.

But add humidity to those temperatures, and records begin shattering, or almost. According to a NWS report sent by meteorologist Michael Kurz, while the summer may not be remembered for its record heat, it will be remembered for “a stifling combination of heat and humidity that kept coming in waves…Summer flirted with record values and had it not been for the most recent late August intrusion of drier air, the summer may have broken records for the highest average dewpoint in recorded history.”

Dewpoint? While the name doesn’t adequately describe its sweaty reality, dewpoint is a measure of moisture in the air, often compared to relative humidity, according to Kurz. The average dewpoint in 2010 was 63.4, just points away from the record-breaking 65.5 in 1995. Other years with near-record dewpoints were 1981, 1973 and 1949.

“It could be argued that summer 2010 was the most uncomfortable in the last 73 years in terms of combined heat/humidity, with only the summer of 1995 showing similar combinations of high heat and humidity,” according to the NWS report.

Daiquiris helped

Local strategies for dealing with the summer’s discomfort included icy cocktails from The Winds, chocolate peanut butter cones from Young’s Jersey Dairy and frequent swims in the Gaunt Park pool.

“Lavender daiquiris were selling out the door,” said Winds co-owner Mary Kay Smith of one of the restaurant’s most popular mixed drinks, made with a lavender essence grown locally by Flying Mouse and Orion farms. Some customers are such lavender daiquiri fans that they check to see if the drink is available before making reservations, Smith said.

Overall, the restaurant did a good business this summer, far better than anticipated given the heat, according to Smith.

“Maybe people just didn’t want to cook,” she said.

However, it was way too hot to open the restaurant’s outdoor patio many days, Smith said. And similarly, Ye Olde Trail Tavern found its patio business down, although inside, the restaurant did fine, according to owner Cathy Christian.

The heat mainly affected the restaurant’s cooks, who had to work in a kitchen that sometimes reached 120 degrees, Christian said. To help, she tried to shorten the cooks’ shifts and offered popsicles and Gatorade.

“They are troupers,” she said of her staff.

While heat would seem to boost ice cream sales, extreme heat can be a problem, according to Dan Young of Young’s Jersey Dairy.

“When it’s in the mid-90s, you have to lick that cone really fast,” he said.

This summer’s ice cream sales were good, however, because while customers stayed home on extremely hot afternoons, they came out in the evenings instead to get their cold treats and perhaps take in a round of miniature golf. And as usual, chocolate peanut butter was the most popular cone flavor, Young said.

At Tom’s Market, shoppers this summer, not surprisingly, went for cold items and salads, according to manager David Trollinger. The staff noticed that more people were shopping mornings and evenings, and fewer were out mid-day.

When not sipping daiquiris or licking cones, many villagers, especially the young, hung out at the Gaunt Park pool, which saw its biggest season in years.

“Our attendance was way up,” said pool manager Tina Fox, who said the pool had three life guards on duty most days, a number that means that at least 50 people are in the pool. However, the actual numbers of swimmers have not yet been compiled, she said, adding that it helped that the Yellow Springs pool was the only municipal pool open in Greene County this summer.

The heat didn’t keep theater-goers away from YS Kids Playhouse, according to Creative Director John Fleming, who said that attendance most nights at the Antioch Amphitheater, which cools off in the evenings, was fine. The group did suffer from competition during the Yellow Springs Experience, when three theater events were scheduled for one night, during which YSKP had less than one-fourth its usual attendance, he said.

The heat mainly affected the group during its afternoon rehearsals at the First Presbyterian Church, according to Fleming, who said YSKP leaders tried scheduling rehearsals earlier in the day to help lessen discomfort for the kids. However, he personally lost eight pounds during the sweaty rehearsals, Fleming said, although he doesn’t recommend his heat-induced diet to anyone else.

The heat seemed especially to impact attendance at some outdoor events during the Yellow Springs Experience the last two weeks of July, according to Chamber of Commerce Director Karen Wintrow. The 10-day event, in its first year and featuring daytime as well as nighttime activities, had the misfortune of taking place during some of the hottest days in a very hot summer.

Stop that jogging!

About nine ambulance calls over the summer could be attributed to heat-related causes, according to Fire Chief Colin Altman of the Miami Township Fire-Rescue squad. No one was seriously affected, however, and most of the calls involved people going about their regular activities — which included jogging — and not realizing that on extremely hot and humid days, they should take it easier.

Most of the callers experienced weakness and nausea, and were immediately given fluids intraveneously, Altman said, with about half being taken to the hospital emergency room, then released. No one ended up staying at the hospital, he said.

About half of those who called the squad were over 50, and the other half were younger than 30, according to Altman, who said that “those in their 30s and 40s did pretty well.”

At the police department, dispatcher Larry Campbell said the police did not receive a single heat-related call this summer. While in some past years, local police checked in on some elderly villagers, most now have caregivers looking after them, Campbell said.

“We have some people in town who take care of each other,” Campbell said.

But the heat “has been a hardship,” for many elders in town, according to Amy Crawford of the Home Assistance Program, which has a caseload of older clients who live in their own homes. Almost all elders have at least a window air conditioner and they stayed close to it on the hottest days, Crawford said. However, consequently some are now facing electric bills that strain their budgets, according to Crawford, who said she tried to link local elders with a state program that provides one-time assistance for high cooling bills.

Village Electric Crew Head Kelley Fox knows about high electricity bills, having recently received his highest bill ever from the Village, covering July electrical use, he said.

On the plus side, the Village suffered no brownouts (“knock on wood”) and was able to meet all energy demands without problems, Fox said. However, his crew is getting older and he was careful that crew members took frequent breaks and drank sufficient water.

Butterflies galore

Signs of unusually hot weather were visible “from the get-go” last spring, according to Bill Felker of “Poor Will’s Almanac,” who has for many years kept a daily log of natural world happenings. After the snow melted last spring, temperatures stayed warmer than usual, from March through August, Felker said.

Spring wildflowers had a shorter than average season, flowering trees came in early and clovers bloomed three weeks earlier than a few years ago, Felker wrote. Fireflies came out several weeks before they usually do and corn was knee high by the fourth of June, not July. And butterflies, perhaps due to a combination of the heat and wet winter, were abundant.

“The butterflies were amazing,” Felker said.

On the local Anderson farm on Clifton Road, many vegetables and berries began their season 10 days to two weeks earlier than usual, and ended the season earlier as well, according to Doug Anderson. At the Anderson farm, there are still green beans, sweet corn, peppers and squash, but they’ll be gone in a week or two, and then the cold weather vegetables will come in.

Speaking on Sept. 2, Anderson said that, judging by vegetables, “You would think the calendar would say it’s September 15 right now.”

To keep local gardens going in the one-two punch of heat and drought, garden hoses were flying out the door at Downing’s Do It Best Hardware, according to Kathy McLemore. But the main effect of the heat seemed to be social.

“People came in a lot to talk about it,” she said.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, some trees, especially in urban areas, may be stressed by the summer heat and display their fall colors early. But if autumn brings rain and cool evenings, the trees in southern Ohio should hold off their showy season until their normal time, from mid to late October.

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