Hot enough for you? Locals seek relief from ‘juicy air’

August 5 – Lewiston – At about 3:30 pm on Thursday, a group of about 30 children in bright orange T-shirts were seen walking down Walnut Street, looking wet in the 90-degree heat. They crossed Bates Street, wandered through Kennedy Park and patiently made their way to the town hall.

After that, there was no reason for the children to look sick. They went straight to the machine guns and in a frantic wave of arms and legs, they began to fight with the heat of the day.

The kids came from Root Cellar, as it happened, and by the time they got there, the pool was already packed with dozens of locals out to get rid of the heat.

“She’s been very busy,” said Maddy Laflame, assistant manager of the municipal complex. “The Root Cellar kids always come here when it’s hot. The kids are doing really well today – they know they have to act or they can’t be in the pool.”

It wasn’t the heat so much as the humidity, as the saying goes. The air was thick and sticky and the kids were wise enough not to take any risks that might lead them out of the coolest spot in downtown Lewiston.

“It’s been a hot summer, and I’m thrilled to have a pool and open splash pad for the kids this year,” said Lewiston Mayor Carl Schlein.

How hot was it? It reached the low 90s in most areas while some inland parts of the state experienced warming. The heat index, a formula for measuring what heat feels like to the human body, is reported at around 100 in parts of New Hampshire and Maine.

Unless you’re walking around in the pool or somewhere that has air conditioning, it really got really hot, and sitting poolside wasn’t enough to keep the body cool.

“I know for a lot of the staff it’s really hot here,” Laflame said. “They’re not a fan of just sitting around when it’s hot. I mean, who would it be?”

The good news for the pool staff was that they were welcome to get into the water themselves, once they were on a break or off duty.

“They’ll jump at the end,” he told Laflame.

The heat in August isn’t entirely new here in Maine, but meteorologists say there’s something a little unusual about this heat wave.

“What sets this heat apart is that the area is subject to a third heat warning as the area typically receives an average of one each summer,” said Mike Haggett, a meteorologist, who manages Pine Tree Weather.

Do you want to know why it has been so frequently hot? Haggett can give you the science behind this fact, too.

“We are seeing the effects of the Bermuda Rise, a blocking feature over the western Atlantic which, due to the recent La Niña, we lost last summer,” he said. “This allows for a prolonged period of juicy air, from moderate tolerance to unbearable humidity levels. The current meteorological phenomenon could have effects during the middle part of next week, making it the longest period of excess summer moisture since July 2020.”

Elsewhere there were predictable sights. There were lines at most ice cream places around the area. There were huge offers of fans, air conditioners, and other cool gadgets in hardware stores. Those who managed to escape to the beaches then gloated about with pictures on social media.

Many places, including bookstores in both Lewiston and Auburn, were introduced as “cooling centers” during the hottest part of the day.

According to Haggett, cooler temperatures will return at some point, but there’s more heat to endure in the meantime.

He said, “Hope is on the horizon, but it won’t happen until later next week. The pattern we saw again in June to early July of higher-level lows dominates our pattern, giving the area average temperatures and dry conditions. It seems We’re back as we get closer to mid-August.”

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