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Work goes on as temperatures rise

June 07, 1999

Hot workBy GREG SIMMONS / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




The temperature in Hagerstown hit 92 degrees Monday, but that didn't keep John Ahalt from his roofing job.

Ahalt, a roofer with Tri-State Roofing and Siding, was about ready to take a break at noon. He had been on the job since 6 a.m. and planned to work until 4:30 p.m.

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"My one complaint is you can't wear shorts," he said. "You want a job (roofing), you wear pants."

Roofers must wear long pants to keep from burning their legs on hot shingles. Cooling off, Ahalt said, was not an option. "You just stay hot."

Officially, the mercury climbed to 92 degrees in Hagerstown Monday, although some bank thermometers flashed even higher temperatures. By noon, the temperature was 91 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

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The National Weather Service predicts today will be even hotter, with temperatures approaching the 100-degree mark.

But the dew point should be lower today, making it feel cooler, said John Newkirk, a program manager for the National Weather Service.

Dew point is defined as the measure of atmospheric temperature to which the air must be cooled in order to reach saturation.

In other words, the higher the dew point the more moisture in the air and the more humid it feels, according to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

The relative humidity was 42 percent Monday, which made it feel as if it were nearly 100 degrees, Newkirk said.

Newkirk said the National Weather Service would have issued a heat advisory had the relative humidity reached 50 percent "to let folks know not to do too (much) crazy stuff out there."

Many local residents went about their daily routines Monday, regardless of the heat and humidity.

A construction crew from Callas Contractors was at Hagerstown Community College putting up a retaining wall that eventually will house air conditioning units for the college.

Johnnie Biser with the Callas crew said that he's been in construction work for 26 years, and has never had heat stroke or heat exhaustion, but has seen it. He said if crew members got too hot, they'd take a break.

Barbara Boward, a mail carrier for the U. S. Postal Service, was driving her nine-hour route in Hagerstown shortly after noon Monday. Inside her Jeep was a 6-inch fan that runs when the Jeep's motor is on. But, she said, "It doesn't really do too much because most of the time I'm stopped."

Boward has been carrying mail for 17 years, and said she prefers the winter to the summer months.

"You've got plenty of clothes you can put on in the winter," Boward said. "But you get used to the heat. It goes with the job."

Gary Gaylor, a carpenter with Heritage Quality Builders, said "It wasn't so bad (Monday) ... The breeze was blowing." He and two other men were working on a house off Mount Aetna Road at about 4 p.m.

One of Gaylor's co-workers, Rick Kennedy, knows a way to beat the heat.

"Every now and again we just soak our shirts down and throw them back on," he said.

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