STEUBENVILLE - It is going to get even hotter before area residents can expect to see relief from the temperatures we have been experiencing.
And, more power outages were reported this morning in the west end of Steubenville following the latest severe thunderstorms to roll through the area.
Alicia Smith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon Township, summed up the forecast for the next several days in one word - "hot."
"The forecast is calling for temperatures in the mid-90s today with the chance of thunderstorms developing this afternoon. And, Friday's forecast calls for temperatures near the 100-degree mark with a better chance of storms," Smith said this morning.
"The relief won't come until after the weekend when temperatures will drop into the mid-80s, which is closer to the norm for this time of the year," added Smith.
"But while the thermometers may say mid-90s today, the heat index will make us feel 104 degree heat. And it will be even higher on Friday," said Smith.
Smith also said the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory and hazardous weather outlook through 7 p.m. today.
American Electric Power was reporting more than 2,400 customers were without power this morning following strong thunderstorms that rolled through the area around midnight today.
Carmen Prati-Miller of AEP said repair crews are working 16-hour shifts, "and when the storm hit there early this morning they were on their rest period."
"The outages in Steubenville are a result of the storm that hit there this morning. All customers should have power restored by the end of the workday on Friday," said Prati-Miller.
Mon Power reported 521 customers were without power in Brooke County this morning, with 429 located in Bethany. In Hancock County, Mon Power reported 271 customers without electricity, with 237 in Weirton.
The heat wave and power outages have prompted the Steubenville and Jefferson County health departments to issue advisories.
"We are urging residents to take precautions during this extreme hot weather period, with forecasts of more hot weather for at least the next several days. Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet annually many people succumb to extreme heat. Historically, from 1979-2003, excessive heat exposure caused 8,015 deaths in the United States. During this period, more people in this country died from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined. In 2001, 300 deaths were caused by excessive heat exposure," said Jefferson County Health Department Administrator Bruce Misselwitz.
"People suffer heat-related illness when their bodies are unable to compensate and properly cool themselves. The body normally cools itself by sweating. But under some conditions, sweating just isn't enough. In such cases, a person's body temperature rises rapidly. Very high body temperatures may damage the brain or other vital organs," he continued.
"Several factors affect the body's ability to cool itself during extremely hot weather. When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Other conditions related to risk include age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, mental illness, poor circulation, sunburn and prescription drug and alcohol use," Misselwitz explained.
"The elderly, the very young and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk. However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. Air conditioning is the No. 1 protective factor against heat-related illness and death. If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned," he said.
"Summertime activity, whether on the playing field or the construction site, must be balanced with measures that aid the body's cooling mechanisms and prevent heat-related illness," added Misselwitz.
Steubenville Health Commissioner Patty Reda also offered advice on dealing with the heat during the next several days.
"During hot weather people need to increase their fluid intake regardless of their activity level. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses of cool fluids each hour," Reda urged.
"If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot. And don't drink liquids that contain alcohol or large amounts of sugar - these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps," said Reda.
"Stay indoors and, if at all possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Use fans to increase ventilation, take cool showers and wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing," added Reda.
"Never leave children or pets in parked cars during the summer. In 15 minutes of summer sun, the interior temperature of a car can exceed 120 degrees," warned Reda.