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Heat advisories span state

Elderly, young especially vulnerable

POSTED: August 22, 2007 5:03 a.m.
DECATUR — It was 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday and Rafael Gonzalez had already worked up a sweat, wrestling to start a weed trimmer alongside a busy highway just east of Atlanta.
He knew his day would just get hotter. But when told temperatures in the Atlanta area are expected to top out at about 100 degrees every day for the rest of the week, he just shook his head and whistled through his teeth.
“I’ve got to work. This is what I do,” said Gonzalez, who said he expected to put in about 10 hours Tuesday working for a landscaping company. “You just do it.”
Much of Georgia was under a heat advisory Tuesday, with the National Weather Service predicting a high of 99 degrees for the Atlanta area. If it bumps up to 100, it would mark the first time metro-area thermometers have hit triple digits in seven years.
In Savannah, temperatures also were forecast to soar as high as 99 degrees Tuesday, but with even more stifling humidity that could drive the heat index up to 115 degrees.
The coastal Georgia city was flirting with breaking a record 100 degrees set on Aug. 7, 1899.
“We could definitely tie the record or possibly even break it,” said Bob Bright, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Charleston, S.C., which also monitors Savannah.
Bright said Savannah-area residents should brace themselves for blistering temperatures the rest of the week. Highs were predicted to stay in the mid-90s through Saturday.
National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Sena in Peachtree City said Atlanta’s heat index likely would top 105 degrees, triggering a heat advisory that urges people to stay inside, drink plenty of fluids, and check on elderly neighbors, relatives and pets.
Much of south and central Georgia was expected to be under an extreme heat advisory, meaning the temperature and humidity could be dangerous to almost everyone.
And in case Atlanta’s weather wasn’t stifling enough, the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued a code red warning for air quality on Tuesday, meaning children and people with lung disease should limit their outdoor activity because of smog and other pollutants in the air.
Sena said scattered showers might bring a little relief in the afternoons this week, but they will be few and far in between.
In a parking lot down the street from Gonzalez, Rodney Holder of Decatur was waiting Tuesday morning to meet a customer of his used car company. Wearing an un-salesmanlike T-shirt with the sleeves cut off, Holder said sales sometimes dip when the weather gets this hot.
“There’s a lot of people just trying to stay cool,” said Holder, who expected to be outside at a car auction for most of the day. “It doesn’t bother me, though. You’ve just got to drink a lot of water.”
At Glenlake Park, a three-man city of Decatur crew worked in long-sleeve, orange shirts meant to keep poison ivy off of their arms as they mowed and weeded 17 acres.
Deon Wyche of Atlanta said the team started work at 6:30 a.m. to try to avoid the day’s worst heat. He said they were taking plenty of breaks, hopping into a work truck to enjoy brief blasts of air conditioning and looking forward to their 3 p.m. quitting time.
“That’s when I go home, take a shower and just lay back,” he said.

Associated Press reporters Russ Bynum in Savannah and Giovanna Dell’Orto in Atlanta contributed to this report.
 

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