ITHACA, N.Y. — The astronomical start of summer may not be until next weekend, but it might as well start now – A Heat Advisory in in effect for Tompkins County from 10 AM to 8 PM Monday.

Ithaca will be under an unusually intense flow of hot and mositure-laden air from the south. Temperatures will top out in the low 90s, but because of a very high humidity (the dewpoint will reach into the low and mid 70s F), it will feel much hotter to the human body – the heat index will exceed 95 in most of Tompkins County, and in the city of Ithaca, it may reach into the low 100s. The period of highest heat will be from about 12 PM to 5 PM.

Under these conditions, and especially in this area given our general lack of exposure to heat indices of this severity, please exercise due caution if outdoors at all during the day Monday. That means staying hydrated, taking frequent breaks in the shade, and avoiding strenuous activity if possible. If you’re a morning jogger, do it early. Wear lightweight and loose fitting clothing, and if possible, stay in an air-conditioned space and stay out of the sun.

The elderly, the ill, and those without air conditioning will be most at risk – keep an eye on your family members, friends and neighbors, and do courtesy checks to ensure their safety. Also, a car sitting in the open sun will heat up to dangerously high temperatures – do not leave children or pets unattended – “look before you lock”. We will be reporting and updating for designated cooling areas.

Graphic courtesy of the National Weather Service

Be familiar with the symptoms of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Heat stroke is when the body cannot regulate its internal temperature and warms to dangerous levels – symptoms include confusion, fainting, seizures, and very hot skin that may be excessively sweating or no sweat at all. If these symptoms are observed, call 911 immediately, and stay with the person. Cool the person rapidly with a cool, wet sponge or ice packs, fan them and have them lie down in a cooler, shadier nearby area.

Heat exhaustion, which comes from excessive strenuous work in high heat, includes headaches, nausea, dizziness, weakness, light-headedness, extreme thirst, heavy sweating and a rapid heart beat. If these symptoms start to occur, have the person stop working immediately, get the affected person to a cool place, give them cool drinks and ice packs, and if no signs of improvement are noted after an hour, call 911.

Thankfully, this blowtorch of heat will be short-lived. A cold front will be coming through late Monday night, bringing thunderstorms followed by much cooler and drier air into the region for Tuesday.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.