Region swelters under heat, humidity
POST-TRIBUNE STAFF REPORT July 16, 2013 5:28PM
A young boy glides down the water slide Tuesday at the Lake Station city pool. | Carole Carlson~Sun-Times Media
Beat the heat
Cooling center locations:
Genesis Convention Center, 1 Genesis Plaza, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 882-5505.
Hudson Campbell Fitness Center, 455 Massachusetts St., 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 886-2814.
Calumet Township Trustee Multipurpose Center, 1900 W. 41st Ave., 24 hours as needed, 880-4902.
Public Safety Facility, 555 Polk St., 24 hours as needed, 881-1260.
Jean Shepherd Community Center, 3031 JF Mahoney Drive, open as needed, 554-0155
Crown Point Civic Center, 101 S. East St., open as needed. To request access to the cooling center outside of regular business hours phone the civic center at 661-2271 or contact the Crown Point Police Department at 663-2131.
The Merrillville Town Hall, 7820 Broadway, will be open as a cooling center until 10 p.m. on an as-needed basis: 769-3531.
Portage fire stations, 3401 Swanson Road, 6275 Old Porter, 6070 Central Ave., and the Woodland Park complex, 2100 Willowcreek Road. Contact the Portage Fire Department administration at 762-7404 or Porter County Central Communications at 477-3122.
Five official cooling sites will be open when the heat index is more than 100 degrees on consecutive days.
Valparaiso University has two places open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday: Harre Union at 1509 Chapel Drive and Christopher Center Library at 1410 Chapel Drive. 464-5000.
Valparaiso YMCA at 1202 Cumberland Crossing is open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 462-4185.
Valparaiso Branch of the Porter County Public Library at 103 Jefferson St. is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 462-0524.
Vale Park Enrichment Center at Banta, the old Banta Elementary School at 605 Beech St., is open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 462-1301.
St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church at 1511 LaPorte Ave. north of Valparaiso University, will open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, 464-4042.
Also, people concerned about those who could be affected by the heat can call the Valparaiso Police Department. The department’s Contact Assistance Referral program offers check-ins on individuals when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees for multiple days. Those wanting to register themselves or someone else can contact Sgt. Michael Grennes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 462-2135.
Updated: August 19, 2013 2:01PM
Northwest Indiana residents can brace for another blistering hot day Wednesday with temperatures and ozone levels climbing to dangerous levels.
Forecasters say relief should be in store by the weekend.
Cities and towns opened cooling shelters to help residents without air conditioning, while Northern Indiana Public Service Co. reported high electrical usage from air conditioners churning across the region.
Kathleen Szot, spokeswoman for NIPSCO, said the electricity provider is prepared for the spike in demand that comes with hot weather. As the hot streak progresses, the utility could begin to take advantage of some voluntary programs it has in place to reduce demand during peak hours.
Residents who opt in to an air-conditioning cycling program receive a $10 a month discount in June, July, August and September, for giving NIPSCO the option to place their air conditioner compressors on a 15 minute on-off cycle between noon and 7 p.m. on weekdays if the energy provider needs extra capacity. Last summer, NIPSCO used the option seven times.
“We are having an AC Cycling day today from noon to 6 p.m.,” Szot said.
The residential program began three years ago and so far about 15,000 of NIPSCO’s 457,000 customers have opted in.
The company also has a similar program with large commercial users, who agree to cut usage to a certain amount at NIPSCO’s request for an incentive. Both programs are common in southern states, Szot said, but are relatively new to this area.
As a last resource, the company can purchase additional power on the open market.
Meanwhile, muggy residents found ways to beat the heat by flocking to swimming pools and public beaches on Tuesday.
“This is a perfect day for this,” said Shannon Kolosci, of Lake Station, as she tried to teach her son, Joseph, 3, the basics of swimming at the Lake Station city pool. He wore a set of borrowed goggles that dwarfed his face as he paddled in the water.
“He is so interested in swimming, it’s definitely time for lessons,” she said.
As temperatures soared into the 90s, region residents weren’t alone in their discomfort. Meteorologists say a large dome of high pressure is languishing over the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and Northeast. The pattern is expected to keep the thermometer in the 90s from Chicago to Boston through Thursday.
Temperatures reached 93 degrees in Gary at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service. In Valparaiso, the high was 95 degrees, but when meshed with the heat index it felt like 103 degrees.
The heat triggered ozone alerts — or Air Quality Action Day warnings — for the third straight day. The alerts are issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
“The sun comes down and creates a chemical reaction with some of the emissions from vehicles and creates this ozone,” IDEM spokesman Dan Goldblatt said. “At lower levels, it can create breathing problems.”
He encouraged residents to bike, carpool or use public transportation. People should also avoid using the drive-thru and combine errands into one trip. He said to avoid using gasoline-powered lawn equipment until after 7 p.m. and turn off car engines when idling more than 30 seconds.
So far this year, Goldblatt said Northwest Indiana has had five Air Quality Action Days, including Wednesday.
For more information, go to www.SmogWatch.IN.gov.