Mother Nature turns up the temps

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Experts say it's a good weekend to be at the pool. Or in Alaska.

With much of the country boiling, temperatures in Gwinnett this weekend are expected to hang around 7 degrees above normal, with sizzling heat indexes in the low 100s.

Translation: The summer of soupy air persists.

National Weather Service meteorologist Laura Belanger calls for a high today of 98, followed by a hardly merciful 97 on Sunday, each with a chance of afternoon showers. The average high this time of year is 90.

"We have been running hot," Belanger said. "When we get the heat indexes about 100, that's where it really starts to wear on people. People with health concerns, the young and elderly, they should reduce their exposure outdoors."

A respite from the inferno doesn't appear to be coming anytime soon.

High temperatures Monday through Thursday are predicted to reach 94 degrees. Each day carries a 20 to 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, the National Weather Service reported Friday.

Belanger said temperatures should stay hotter than normal through early August.

As if the molasses-thick air wasn't prohibitive enough, metro Atlanta's smog forecast calls for a code-orange alert today, where the air quality is expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA officials suggest all prolonged outdoor activity be relegated to early morning or evening hours.

Safety experts urge outdoor-bound folks to use caution this weekend, while a group serving seniors is offering free fans to those who qualify.

Capt. Thomas Rutledge, Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman, reminds those who must venture out that water consumption, light clothing, sunscreen and shade are imperative in a Georgia July.

Heat stroke is a real possibility when temperatures breach 90. Rutledge said warning signs include dilated pupils, loss of consciousness, muscle twitching, wildly varying pulse rates and variations in breathing.

"Get (heat stroke victims) to a cool, shaded area out of direct sunlight," Rutledge advised. "Indoors, and in the air conditioning, is preferred."

For the sake of random comparison, temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska, are expected to top out this weekend at a comparatively brisk 73 degrees.