Another day of intense heat

Published 10:54 am Friday, July 22, 2011

Rusty Malbone unloads sweet potatoes for the produce auction in Courtland on Thursday, when temperatures hit a high of 104. GWEN ALBERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

COURTLAND—For some 40 Franklin kids, the cheap seats at Thursday’s Norfolk Tides game were the best in the house.

“We were at the top of the bleachers, in an area under the canopy,” said Frank Davis, director of Franklin Department of Parks & Recreation, who took the youth to an afternoon game as part of the Summer Jam Program.

“We were on the side of the water, and a breeze came through,” Davis continued. “It felt like AC. I was so comfortable watching the game, I almost didn’t want to get up and get a hot dog.”

The game-time temperature at Harbor Park hit near 100, but with the heat index, it felt more like 107.

Friday, Western Tidewater hit a record high of 102 that felt more like 118, and Saturday, July 23, calls for 101 with a heat index of 112, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield. Sunday, July 24, should “cool down” to 97. This week’s temperatures are a carbon copy of what Western Tidewater experienced in July 2010.

The current high temperatures are from a massive heat wave across the Midwest and East Coast that has taken 22 lives, according to news reports.

The Summer Jam Program found a way to beat the heat on Friday. About 50 participants took an air-conditioned bus to the air-conditioned Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond.

Jeannie Flanagan had no choice but to deal with the heat on Thursday. A farmer from Pungo, Flanagan at 5:30 a.m. began picking tomatoes, eggplant, squash and cucumbers to sell at the produce auction that evening in Courtland. She and helper Rusty Malbone then drove 71 miles to the auction without air-conditioning.

“Our AC was two windows down while driving 50 mph,” Malbone said.

“We’re used to it,” Flanagan said while unloading the boxes of produce that filled her half-ton pickup.

Drinking a lot of water keeps them going.

Cindy Brinkley left her full-time job at Suffolk Sheet Metal to buy produce at the auction to supplement her own produce stand. The 52-year-old would rather deal with the heat than miss the auction.

Leon Boone, 50, of Suffolk also wasn’t terribly bothered by it. Another owner of Suffolk farm market looking to supplement his stand with produce from the auction, Boone spent the early part of the day taking care of lawns for his landscaping business.

Steve Phillips, who works in the pro shop at Cypress Cove Country Club, was expecting a slow day Friday.

“It drops off pretty good (on hot days),” Phillips said. “It’s just so hot.”

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, about 50 to 60 golfers hit the links; that number dropped to about 30 on Thursday, he said. By 10 a.m. Friday, it was 92 degrees at the Franklin golf course.

“It’s pretty dangerous (to be out there),” Phillips said.