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Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

Prolonged heat activates Washtenaw County emergency response plan as forecast calls for heat index near 105

By Juliana Keeping

Washtenaw County is activating its emergency response plan today following two full days under a National Weather Service heat advisory.

The heat advisory went into effect midday Monday and will remain in effect until Wednesday morning. Issuing a heat advisory is a move made by the NWS after the heat index — a measurement combining temperature and humidity — reaches 100 degrees or higher for three or more hours.

Marc Breckenridge, emergency services director of the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, said prolonged high temperatures spark coordination among county agencies under the county’s emergency response plan. The first step: a conference call today at 4 p.m.


With the week's temperatures expected to stay in the 90s, experts advise staying well-hydrated and out of the sun as much as possible.

Melanie Maxwell |

The call means agencies will discuss how to coordinate their monitoring of the public’s needs in the face of high temperatures and a hotter forecast. No further actions — such as opening cooling centers — have been decided yet.

A power grid stressed by days of heavy use and heat could change that later this week, he said, if outages occur.

In the meantime, Breckenridge urged residents to drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks from the heat by sitting in the shade or in air-conditioning.

“With the Art Fair and the Manchester Chicken Broil, people have to take it easy,” Breckenridge said. “They should take water with them and look for shaded areas so they can take breaks. If they don’t feel healthy, and want to engage in recreation, they should go with somebody.”

While Tuesday afternoon's temperatures flirted with 90 degrees, it’s going to get even hotter the rest of the week.

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service will bump its advisory to an extreme watch, meaning the heat index is expected to soar to 105 degrees, said Matt Mosteiko, a meteorologist with the service's White Lake Township office, which monitors southeast Michigan.

An extreme heat warning could be issued if the heat index reaches 110 degrees for a prolonged period of time.

Forecasters predict a heat index from 105 to 107 degrees in Washtenaw County on Thursday, though the thermometer is expected to read 94 to 98 degrees, Mosteiko said.

Friday will offer a slight cooldown, with temperatures in the low 90s expected to feel more like 98 to 103 degrees. Friday also will see a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms.

On Saturday, the heat will feel as high as 95 degrees, with the actual reading as high as 91.

Under the county’s emergency response plan, cooling centers could be opened by the American Red Cross if the heat wave sparks a power outage, Breckenridge said.

During power outages that occur during heat waves, residents are urged to stay with family members or friends who have air-conditioning, or to visit cool spots like the mall, Breckenridge said. The cooling centers are made available for residents that don’t have those options or lack transportation.

Breckenridge said he was not aware of any local outages sparked by the heat Tuesday afternoon.

On hot days, the NWS advises people to reschedule strenuous outdoor activities for early morning or evening, learn signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, wear lightweight or loose clothing, and drink plenty of water, Mosteiko said.

Agencies that coordinate under the county's emergency response plan include the American Red Cross, the Washtenaw County Public Health Department, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, Huron Valley Ambulance, the Humane Society of Huron Valley, Ann Arbor Emergency Management, and emergency services with the sheriff’s department.

Juliana Keeping covers general assignment and health and the environment for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter



Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

Yesterday at this time I was in the amish country in Shipshewana In Left at about 4:00p.m Horses still running in town on that hot pavement. Owners gave no mercy to there power on wheels.... There was a heat index of 106. Was so glad when we left to come home we had a/c Not a place to visit in the heat!!!! Been there before! Next time I will go in long pants...(fall)

Tom Joad

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:53 a.m.

they should go ahead and cancel the art fair for this summer. It's much too hot, seriously.

Kai Petainen

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

It's nice to see that Breckenridge and others are concerned about the heat and chatting about it. Excellent. Well done. This is a good step with regards to public safety. With the high heat, big crowds... we're bound to have some heat exhaustion. I have to wonder how the artwork (paint/plastic/etc) will do under the high heat? I was wondering why the AA emergency management wasn't speaking, but then then I noticed that the job for Director of Emergency Management is open. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>*11CDE9F688D91FFD 1 year ago, a public/environmental safety event would happen in the city and bring 3 agencies together. Not one of the 3 primary agencies involved (UofM DPS, AAFD and AA Emergency Management) could solve it. For whatever reason, they failed at solving the cause of the event. 1 year later, for those 3 agencies involved, the top 3 folks are gone. The director of UofM DPS is gone, the AAFD chief is gone and the AA Director of Emergency Management job is available. Most likely coincidental, but still fascinating. My best wishes to those who get one of those jobs. Improve on working together, solve problems together, and take measures to improve our environment/public safety. As for the incident a year ago, it still remains unsolved.

Milton Shift

Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 9:34 p.m.

If you start feeling nauseated, stop sweating as much, or find yourself with a parched tongue, it's time to find A/C and some cold water, pronto. You might be able to handle the heat at first, but its effects on the body are cumulative. It can sneak up on you. Be careful... heat like this can be deadly.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

They are in big trouble this week what with the Art Fair goers. Most forget to drink water and go slow. Good luck to the responders and those who brave this heat. Yuck.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Stay indoors in the A/C or use fans. Keep your pets cool...especially those northern breeds...Give your horses and ponies a break. It is unsafe for horses or ponies to work moderately (walk, trot, canter) for more than 17 minutes. Better yet...just hose 'em down!