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Illinoisans prepare as record high temps descend on state

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(The Center Square) – Millions of people in Illinois and other parts of the Midwest are under heat alerts as the hottest conditions yet this year descend upon the state.

A so-called “heat dome”, with an intensity that is setting records dating back to the 1950s, has settled over Illinois.

“What that does is it funnels in very warm air as well as humidity from the south and southwest so it helps to raise our temperatures up to very high levels, mid to upper 90s and in some places maybe reaching 100 degrees,” Trent Ford, Illinois state climatologist, told The Center Square.

Cooling centers are opening in Chicago, Quincy, Decatur and Springfield among other communities.

Ford said it was anticipated the remnants of Hurricane Hillary would affect the Midwest and bring relief, but now that is doubtful.

“That tropical storm we were originally forecasting to break through and maybe swing up and then around the Midwest looks like it’s not going to happen now because that high pressure has been pretty strong,” Ford said.

Some Illinois schools have delayed the start of the school year or have switched to remote learning during the hot spell. Sports activities are being canceled as well.

Ford said adding to the uncomfortable humid conditions is the state’s massive corn crop and a phenomenon called “corn sweat” as the plants release moisture into the air.

“That water can add up pretty significantly,” Ford said. “A well-fed, healthy, active growing corn crop can transpire perhaps up to three-tenths to maybe four-tenths of an inch of water per day.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is encouraging Illinois residents to take steps to protect themselves. According to a news release, the agency said it is important to take steps to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

With dangerously high temperatures and humidity in the forecast, I urge everyone to take precautions and protect themselves and their families from overheating and heat related illnesses. This is especially important for very young children, people who are pregnant and those who are older or have chronic health conditions,” said IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra.

Temperatures are expected to return closer to normal Saturday.

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