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Taking The Heat, Pittsburgh Tries To Stay Cool

Jake Savitz
90.5 WESA
PPG Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh on a hot summer day. The region is experiencing a heat wave in the first few days of September.

As schools without air conditioning close early and cooling centers stay open late, the city of Pittsburgh is trying not to sweat it out.

On Tuesday, temperatures peaked at 95 degrees at 2:08 p.m. according to meteorologist Lee Hendricks of the Pittsburgh National Weather Service. In combination with a dew point of 72, this can feel like 103 degrees.

These sweltering temperatures, Hendricks said, are especially problematic for those respiratory problems or not accustomed to high temperatures.


“The temperatures itself are uncomfortable,” Hendricks said. “But it’s the relative humidity which has been the problem the past few days. We have had abnormally high temperatures with high humidity which will exacerbate conditions for those with respiratory conditions and the young and old, who do not take the heat very well.”


The last time Pittsburgh hit these highs were back in 2012, when there was a heat wave between June 28 to July 7. Then, temperature highs ranged from 89 to 98 degrees.


However, 2018 is on course to rank as the fourth hottest year on record, right behind 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


To combat the heat on Tuesday and Wednesday, Pittsburgh Public Schools announced two-hour early dismissals, letting students go due to the extreme heat outside. Of the district's 54 schools and buildings, only 11 are equipped with air conditioning.


The city also opened cooling centers at the Homewood Healthy Active Living, South Side Market House and Sheraden Healthy Active Living Center through Wednesday and the use of six city spray parks through Sunday.


The good news, Hendricks said, is that this heat should break by Friday, which will bring highs down to the upper 70s, and stay below 80 degrees until Tuesday.


But until then, Hendricks advised drinking lots of water, wearing hats and getting outdoor activities out of the way in the morning or near sunset, when the day is usually coolest.

Kieran McLean contributed to this story.

Sabrina Bodon is a senior journalism major at Point Park University, where she is the editor the Point Park News Service. She's interested in the how and why of everything. In the past, she has interned with The New York Times, Pittsburgh City Paper, Pittsburgh Magazine, PublicSource and the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.