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updated: 7/19/2011 11:42 AM

Burbs take another beating with brutal heat

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  • Carpenter Bob Brothers of Crystal Lake gets the last drop from his water bottle while working on a home renovation Monday afternoon in Arlington Heights.

       Carpenter Bob Brothers of Crystal Lake gets the last drop from his water bottle while working on a home renovation Monday afternoon in Arlington Heights.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Ed Czachowski of St. Charles stops to wipe the sweat off his brow as he works on his garden plot at James O. Breen Community Park in St. Charles Monday.

       Ed Czachowski of St. Charles stops to wipe the sweat off his brow as he works on his garden plot at James O. Breen Community Park in St. Charles Monday.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Audrey Nelson, 4, of Wheaton, beat the heat with ice cream in downtown Wheaton on Monday.

       Audrey Nelson, 4, of Wheaton, beat the heat with ice cream in downtown Wheaton on Monday.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Construction workers wear heavy clothing as they continue work on Route 47 in Huntley in the heat Monday.

       Construction workers wear heavy clothing as they continue work on Route 47 in Huntley in the heat Monday.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Vernon Hills Public Works worker Ryan Papak, right, beats the heat by dousing himself with water as he and his co-worker Sergio Soto, left, work in Century Park Monday following Vernon Hills Summer Celebration.

       Vernon Hills Public Works worker Ryan Papak, right, beats the heat by dousing himself with water as he and his co-worker Sergio Soto, left, work in Century Park Monday following Vernon Hills Summer Celebration.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • The grass is calling it quits for a while along Arlington Heights Road as the heat wave continues in the area Monday afternoon in Arlington Heights.

       The grass is calling it quits for a while along Arlington Heights Road as the heat wave continues in the area Monday afternoon in Arlington Heights.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

  • Sergio Soto, a Vernon Hills Public Works employee, works in Century Park Monday following Vernon Hills' Summer Celebration.

       Sergio Soto, a Vernon Hills Public Works employee, works in Century Park Monday following Vernon Hills' Summer Celebration.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • Staying safe in heat

    Graphic: Staying safe in heat

  • Hot weather tips

    Graphic: Hot weather tips

 
 

Whether it's a blizzard, tornadoes, floods or unrelenting heat, we can't seem to catch a break this year.

Still recovering from last week's power-zapping storms, many suburban residents are nervously anticipating the havoc this week's heat wave could wreak -- either on their electric bills, their electric service, their health or their daily activities.

Temperatures are forecast to soar into the upper 90s starting Wednesday -- boosting heat indexes as high as 115 -- and there's a chance of gusty thunderstorms today, according to AccuWeather.

"I'm worried, because last time we had bad weather, we lost power for days," said Karina Davydov, a mother of two of Buffalo Grove. "The day care (centers) were closed last week, too."

ComEd says it can't guarantee the extreme heat won't lead to outages, but if it does, they are prepared with extra repair crews and staff in their customer operations center, spokeswoman Alicia Zatkowski said. ComEd also will keep open its emergency command center in Joliet this week as a precaution.

"We understand that customers are concerned," Zatkowski said. "The key message always is (for customers) to call us or email us right away if they experience an outage."

Since the deadly heat wave in 1995, which overloaded the area's power supply and led to widespread blackouts and brownouts -- as well as hundreds of heat-related deaths -- ComEd has spent more than $9 billion on system improvements, Zatkowski said.

The system was operating smoothly Monday, when temperatures hit 90 degrees at O'Hare and 93 at Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, Zatkowski said. The power levels were nowhere near the utility's peak power load, which was recorded during a heat wave on Aug. 1, 2006.

Zatkowski acknowledges the frustration many customers had with ComEd following July 11's storm that left more than 800,000 people without power, some for as long as six days. It was one of the biggest restoration efforts in the utility's history and cost the company $80 million, Zatkowski said.

"We are definitely sympathetic," she said. "We know that customers would like to see improved service from ComEd, and so we're taking what we do as a whole, and we're always striving to improve."

The Chicago area isn't expected to break any weather records this week; but it will experience an extended period of heat and humidity, AccuWeather meteorologist Mike Pigott said.

Most of Chicago's high temperature records are in the low 100s. The record highs for today and Wednesday are 101 degrees, but this week's forecast calls for a high temperature of 92 today, and 97 on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Pigott said.

What will make this heat wave one for the record books is not its high temperatures, but its massive size. Almost every state in the continental U.S. -- Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire being the exceptions -- is facing sizzling heat this week with temperatures over 90 degrees. The Chicago suburbs are simply in the thick of it.

"You're looking at extremely high real-feel temperatures and heat indexes," Pigott said. "Wednesday and Thursday are going to be the worst. You'll be seeing heat indexes in the 110-115 range."

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