Chicago weather: Heat, humidity spells problems for some, fun for others

July 17, 2013 (CHICAGO)

Buckling pavement likely caused by the high temperatures has closed down a section of US-30 in Crest Hill while IDOT crews work to repair it.

The heat has been wrecking all sorts of havoc today. Starting around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, when a metra eletric line train going through the Calumet station hit some downed wires, causing them to catch fire.

Trains were then delayed for hours while workers tried to fix the issue. Meanwhile hundreds of commuters were stuck in the scorching sun wondering when they'd be able to board a train.

It was 3 p.m. Wednesday afternoon before Metra Electric service was back to normal.

Then, around 2 p.m., a power outage on the South Side left about 800 customers without electricity, including Chicago Police Headquarters. And while ComEd says the outage itself wasn't heat-related, it left area residents without air conditioning during the hottest part of the day.

Earlier on Wednesday, people flocked to local cooling centers across the city for some relief.

It was not a good day for air conditioner problems, but because they are being used so much, problems are arising.

Commuters on the Metra Electric Line also had to deal with the heat. Wires down forced major train delays, and people were stuck in the scorching sun for hours.

"I can't even count the hours I am so tired I'm hot, I'm hot!" said Glennetta Shenault, stuck waiting for the train.

So what can you do to stay safe in this weather? The Chicago Department of Public Health reminds you to listen to your body.

"Some of the signs and symptoms we see from heat related illness can be dizziness or shortness of breath so when we think that we are experiencing some of those symptoms we want to get ourselves immediately in a cool location," said Suzet McKinney, deputy commissioner, Bureau of Public Health.

"It's going to be, probably, the hottest day we've seen all summer," ABC7 Meteorologist Phil Schwarz said Wednesday.

Dozens of lakefront runners tried to beat the heat by pounding the pavement early in the morning, but it was already sticky and humid.

"I feel like I'm going to explode. It's so hot. I took off my shirt. It's like 100," said runner Andres Arango.

Beach yoga was the exercise of choice for Maegan and Karl Watson who knocked out their workout before retreating to the chilly air conditioning.

"We biked down here, and I kind of thought it would be a lot hotter. I probably won't work our later," Maegan Watson said.

"With heat like this, we either come early or I won't work out later. I'd rather have a beer and sit in the air conditioning," said Karl Watson.

The city of Chicago has opened its cooling centers for residents looking for a break. Hospital emergency rooms are also seeing a rise in heat-related illnesses.

Officials are urging residents to check up on their neighbors.

Ladonna Watkins was keeping her baby sheltered from the sun in a covered stroller.

"I feel sticky already, and I've only been walking for about 10 minutes. It's just part of being in Chicago," she said.

Besides staying hydrated, doctors say the best thing you can do is listen to your body.

" You're more susceptible to heat injuries when you're not acclimatized to heat. A lot of folks don't have air conditioning so they're really suffering when it's very high heat, very high humidity. Make sure that you're drinking fluids, staying out the direct sunlight, and really, just taking care of the people around you," said Dr. Karen Spangle, emergency medical specialist for Loyola.

If you do go to the beach or pool to cool off remember to you should not only take breaks in the water, but take shade breaks . Doctors say that can make a big difference.

If you are a die-hard summer fanatic and like this weather, you're in luck. We should have at least two more days of it.

The city of Chicago released these tips to stay cool:

  • Call 311 for a Cooling center near you, which are located within the six Community Service Centers operated by the Department of Family Support Services (DFSS). The centers are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. pm Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
  • Contact local Chicago Park District facilities to find out about beach and park hours and programs.
  • Be a good neighbor and check on seniors or the disabled during extreme heat, or call 311 to request well-being checks and rides to cooling centers.
  • Remember to never leave dogs in parked vehicles – even in moderate heat it can be harmful and quickly escalate to fatal results. Be sure to keep your pets hydrated as well. If you see an animal in a parked vehicle, report it to 311.

The public can obtain more information about extreme weather preparedness by visiting . Residents are also encouraged to sign up to receive free weather alert notifications via text or email at .

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