Summer isn’t over yet
WORTHINGTON — Todd Meyer can’t remember the last time it’s been this hot to start a school year.
“It’s been a long time since there’s been this many days in a row where it’s been like this,” the Jackson County Central superintendent said. “This is my sixth year here at JCC, and this is the first time we’ve had this many days in row this hot at the beginning of the school year.”
Because of that heat, the JCC schools let out for the second day in a row Tuesday afternoon.
“Three of our four buildings don’t have air conditioning,” Meyer said. “With the temperatures looking to be in the mid-90s with humidity in the 70 to 80 percent range, it’s just too much for us to handle.”
No air conditioning was also a factor in Windom.
“Looking at the heat and humidity factor for the heat index for Monday and Tuesday, we made the decision to do that (close early),” Windom Area Superintendent Wayne Wormstadt said. “Our one elementary is not air conditioned, which has 360 kids in it.”
According to National Weather Service (NWS) Meteorologist Todd Heitkamp, the heat advisory has been extended through tonight.
“There is a heat advisory through Wednesday for southwest Minnesota,” Heitkamp said. “It might be extended until Thursday, but right now it’s valid through Wednesday. Whether or not the advisory is out there, it’s just hot.”
With not much relief in sight, both school officials said they would monitor the weather as the week progresses.
“We’re kind of looking at the weather forecast everyday and looking at the models and that kind of stuff from the National Weather Service,” Meyer said. “Mid- to late afternoon, I’ll sit down again and take a look and see where they are at tomorrow. I really don’t try to plan out that far in advance because the weather can flip so fast.”
According to the NWS, today is supposed to be in the 90s again, with Thursday (89), Friday (88) and Saturday (90) slated to be just as hot.
“We’re looking at heat indices above 100; there’s not going to be much change in the forecast over the next couple of days,” Heitkamp said. “I won’t say it’s normal. Has it happened before? Yes, it has. I think what makes it seem more extreme is the fact that we had the cool spell that we did for as long as we did a couple weeks ago.”
In Worthington, Worthington Christian School Principal Lori Eckhoff said even though students went a full day Monday, it wasn’t a very productive learning environment. That’s why a decision was made to dismiss early Tuesday.
“We do not have air conditioning in the building,” Eckhoff said. “We wanted to see how (Monday) went. By 1:30 in the afternoon, some of the classrooms were 85 degrees. It wasn’t a productive learning environment.
“The only thing the kids and teachers were focusing on was that it was hot.”
Eckhoff said other precautions were being taken to prevent students and staff from overheating.
“We had lots of fans going and brought in larger fans,” she said. “The students were free to bring in water bottles as well.”
While the rest of the week is scheduled to be just as hot, no further decision had been made by 11 a.m. Tuesday.
“We are going to wait and see how it goes,” Eckhoff said, adding that she wants to give parents enough advance notice since they are responsible for transportation home when students are dismissed early.
For those schools, homes and businesses that do have air conditioning, Worthington Public Utilities General Manager said there hasn’t been a shortage of power.
“We have ample power coming into the community,” he said. “We haven’t had any issues with any shortage of power. Obviously, it’s a bugger for crews that have to work outside and try to get stuff done, but that is for any of the folks who have to work outside.
“At least Monday we had a pretty good wind all day long, so we were getting some power from all the wind energy around the area,” Hain said. “Tuesday, not so much.”
Some residential units will be controlled to limit the use of power.
“(Monday) and (Tuesday) and possibly through the week, we will be utilizing our load management system where we’re controlling residential air conditioning for those units that we have out there,” Hain said. “That doesn’t really affect the utility. It can affect us in a positive way by reducing our peak and saving a significant amount of money on our purchase power bill this month.”
Unfortunately for the water levels in Worthington, the heat and humidity most likely won’t produce any significant rainfall.
“Typically, when we get this hot and humid, it doesn’t brew up a storm, but what it does is prevent storms from developing because you have this bubble of hot air over us,” Heitkamp said. “The atmosphere actually becomes too hot to allow storms to develop. Some people have a difficult time understanding that it can be too warm for storms to form, and that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
According to Heitkamp, there could be a break next week from the heat.
“We’ll get a break come November and December when people want the heat back,” he said. “It looks like it will cool down somewhat next week. When I say cool down, that’s in a relative sense of the word — meaning that relative to what it is right now, it’s going to be cooler. But we’re still looking at temperatures in the mid-80s.”