Forecasters warn of 'excessive heat' in Chicago beginning Thursday

- Forecasters are warning Chicago area residents that the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity could create a dangerous situation and lead to heat illnesses between Thursday and Saturday.

The National Weather Service issued an “excessive heat watch” in effect beginning at noon Thursday and will continue until 7 p.m. Friday. With temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90s and dew points approaching the upper 70s, the maximum heat index value could reach 115 degrees.

“Temperatures this high could lead to heat-related illnesses with prolonged exposure,” the weather service warned. “The elderly, small children and pets are especially susceptible.”

The weather phenomenon is what meteorologists called a “heat dome,” Charles Mott of the National Weather Service in Romeoville said. It will keep temperatures hotter over a longer period of time. It could also produce more severe storms on Friday night and on Saturday.

The record for Thursday was 103 degrees set in 1901, Mott said. Friday’s record was 101 degrees set in 1991.

Temperatures will begin to fall on Sunday to return to the mid-80s by midweek, Mott said.

Counties affected include Cook, Will, DuPage, Lake, McHenry, Kane, Kankakee, Grundy, Kendall, LaSalle, DeKalb, Iroquois, Ford, Livingston, Winnebago, Boone, Ogle and Lee, forecasters said.

One of the biggest concerns is for people who think they're staying cool.

"Not using a fan as your primary source of cooling. Because a fan simply won't do the job when the weather is as extreme as we anticipate it will be,” said Earnest Brown of the Cook County Department of Homeland Security.

For those staying outside for extended periods of time, it's important to stay hydrated.

“When it's hot I just mostly bring water out. Then when I'm out here hooping with the kids and everything, I just get them extra water,” Brown said.

Doctors say this kind of heat shouldn't be taken lightly. You need to be aware of heat stroke warning signs.

“If you notice somebody seeming confused, getting nauseated, seeming as if they're having trouble communicating with you. They might be experiencing the first signs of heat stroke,” said Dr. Laolu Fayanju of Oak St Health.

The heat is already having an impact on Chicago’s roads.

"I haven't driven on it this summer but in the past it's kind of scary. "

Pavement is buckling on Lake Shore Drive, just like every year.

To get ahead of the looming buckling, CDOT is doing permanent repairs in two northbound lanes. Those closures will last until 5 a.m. Wednesday and stretch from 31st to 57th streets.

Metra is also warning that they will start reducing train speeds when it gets 95 degrees or higher, meaning travel delays. 

"I want to get home so I’m not into the travel delays. I think Metra should figure it out, where we don't have these delays."

With or without these travel delays, it's summer in Chicago, so take it or leave it.

"We are in Chicago and anything can happen."

Residents are urged to plan ahead; have a cool place to take shelter; avoid outdoor activity during the afternoon; drink plenty of fluids; and check on relatives and neighbors.

Chicago Area Cooling Centers:

  • Berwyn Library, 2700 S. Harlem, Berwyn;
  • Berwyn Police Department, 6401 W. 31st, Berwyn;
  • Bloom Township Village Building, 425 S. Halsted, Chicago Heights;
  • Bremen Township Community Cneter, 15350 S. Oak Park, Oak Forest;
  • Bremen Township Administrative Office, 16361 S. Kedzie Pkwy. Markham;
  • Calumet Township Community Center, 12633 Ashland, Calumet Park;
  • Cicero Village Building, 4949 W. Cermak, Cicero;
  • Cicero Police Office, 4901 W. Cermak, Cicero;
  • Cicero Public Safety Building, 5410 W. 34th St., Cicero;
  • Cicero Community Center, 2250 S. 49th Ave., Cicero;
  • Elk Grove Township, 2400 S. Arlington Hts., Arlingotn Heights;
  • Hanover Township, 240 S. Illinois Rt. 59, Bartlett;
  • Leyden Township, 2620 N. Mannheim, Franklin Park;
  • Lyons Township, 6404 W. Joliet Rd., Countryside;
  • Maine Township, 1700 Ballard Rd., Park Ridge;
  • Niles Township, 5255 Main St., Skokie;
  • Norwood Park, 7833 W. Lawrence, Norridge;
  • Oak Park, 130 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park;
  • Orland Township, 14807 Ravinia Ave., Orland Park;
  • Palatine Township, 721 S. Quentin Rd., Palatine;
  • Palos Township, 10802 S. Roberts Rd., Palos Hills;
  • Proviso Township, 4565 Harrison St., Hillside;
  • Riverside Township, 47 Riverside Rd., Riverside;
  • Stickney Township, 7745 S. Leamington, Burbank;
  • Barrington Public Safety Building, 400 N. Northwest Hwy., Barrington;
  • Barrington Train Station, 201 S. Spring St., Barrington;
  • Wheeling Township, 1616 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Arlington Heights; and
  • Worth Township, 11601 S. Pulaski Rd., Alsip.

Residents are advised to contact the cooling center first to make sure it is open.

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