Blistering heat, humidity marks Twin Cities July 4th holiday

Cooling off
John Koski maintains a cool head at the Lupient Water Park in Minneapolis on the Fourth of July.
MPR Photo/Martin Moylan

Temperatures in the Twin Cities hovered around 100 degrees for hours on the Fourth of July, and the humidity made it feel even hotter, making it another day of excessive heat warnings.

Adelheid Koski of Minneapolis and her family were here at the Jim Lupient Water Park in Minneapolis at about 10 a.m. Wednesday, and they planned to spend much of their day there because it offered a good solution for beating the heat.

"Water," she said. "Lots and lots of water. We don't have central air. So, we'll either be here or up at Lake Johanna in Arden Hills." Failing that, she said her family might take in an air conditioned movie.

The heat wave has caused roads to buckle and led to thunderstorm warnings in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

Temperatures hit 101 in Minneapolis on Wednesday, breaking the old record of 100 set on the same day in 1949, according to the National Weather Service. St. Cloud got up to 97, one degree higher than the record set in 1988.

About two-thirds of Minnesota was covered by advisories for heat or excessive heat most of the day. Temperatures were expected to range from 95 to 100 across both states through Friday.

A number of communities cancelled fireworks shows because of hot and dry conditions, while others said they will proceed with caution.

Stacked air conditioners
Liz Lyman of Warners' Stellian says air conditioners were flying out the appliance retailer's Roseville store Tuesday and Wednesday. The store had about 50 air conditioners in stock when it opened its doors on the Fourth of July.
MPR Photo/Martin Moylan

Samantha Pree-Stinson of Minneapolis was also at the water park early. But she was planning to spend most of the rest of the day inside with her husband and children.

"We're going to try to beat the heat by staying in for a little bit," she said. "I think it's the smarter thing to do. When it's hot everybody wants to go out. But I don't think everyone realizes that can be pretty dangerous.

Pree-Stinson said she served 14 months as an Army medic in Afghanistan. That experience taught her to respect the dangers of extreme heat.

"I do worry about the kids and my husband because they're not used to this," she said. "So the main thing is educating them about how these heat injuries can be severe and usually by the time you notice it, it's too late."

To help residents stay cool, the City of Minneapolis kept nine of its 18 air-conditioned recreation centers open over the holiday. Thirteen-year-old Elliot Miller was at the Longfellow Park rec center when it opened at about noon.

"Me and my friend were at my house," he said. "But then we decided to come up here and play a little basketball, play some pool, foosball, air hockey."

And on tap?

"We're going to do a water balloon fight here at Longfellow Park," he said. "My goal is to hit more people."

Air conditioner sales throughout the region soared with the temperatures. Many stores ran out of units, leading to lots of frantic searches for retailers with some air conditioners still in stock.

Brad Johnson of St. Paul had some air conditioners on loan from a friend. But with the heat, the friend asked for them back, "So, we were left stranded," he said.

So Johnson had to hustle to find some new ones. Otherwise, "I'd probably bake to death," he said. He went to three stores, only to find they just had units that were too big for his needs. But Johnson managed to locate two units that were just right at the Warners' Stellian store in Falcon Heights.

The store had about 50 air conditioners when it opened; five or six when it closed in the afternoon.

Jeff Warner is a salesman at the store. He described the scene in a word: "Pandemonium."

"Customers [are] coming in, looking pretty haggard from the heat, wanting a product right away. And I can understand why. So, we were very busy and had a lot of product moving off the shelves," he said.

While the blistering heat is with us, state health officials warn people to chill out: Drink more fluids than usual, but avoid alcohol or sugary drinks; stay indoors in an air-conditioned location, if possible; keep a close eye on people who may be at higher risk of heat-related illness including infants and young children, people over 65, people with mental illness, and people with chronic health problems like heart disease or high blood pressure.

Folks who must spend time outdoors are advised to try to limit their activity to the cooler hours of the day, in the morning and evening.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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