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Business runs hot and cold in heat

August 16, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

tiffanya@herald-mail.com

Meteorologists say Washington County residents experienced more hot days in the month of August than they did last summer.

That is good and bad news for local businesses.

"When it's really hot, people won't come out," said Wayne Eury, owner of the Big Dipper ice cream shop at 1033 Virginia Ave. in Hagerstown. "People get home from work and say, 'I'm not coming out in that heat.'"

Temperatures are expected to cool this week, but a warm front could bring another blast of heat - prolonging a summer weather watchers say has been warmer than usual.

According to local weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at i4weather.net, temperatures hit 90 degrees or higher eight times this month, compared with nine times for June, July and August last year. The temperature hit 90 degrees only four times in August 2004, according to the Web site.

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That does not include days when the heat index - factoring in humidity - made it feel as though the temperature was higher than 90 degrees.

While there weren't any heat advisories last year, the National Weather Service issued two heat advisories for Hagerstown this month, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Manning said.

Businesses dealing in heat relief had the most to gain from the warm weather, but the results were mixed.

Eury said the ice cream business was best when temperatures hovered in the mid-80s. He said there was a surge in customers in the evenings on hotter days. People were taking advantage of the cooler night temperatures, he said.

"Some days, we weren't able to get closed on time," he said.

Assistant Manager Mandy Nave said there was only a slight increase in business at Olympia Candy Kitchen at 13154 Pennsylvania Ave. in Hagerstown. The shop specializes in homemade ice cream and confections.

Business was brisk, however, at Claude M. Potterfield Swimming Pool on Frederick Street.

The pool hit its 500-person capacity six times this summer, well above the normal daily average of 400, said Patty Edleblute, recreations superintendent for Hagerstown Parks and Recreation.

Richard Kunkel, assistant manager at Halfway Pool at Martin L. "Marty" Snook Memorial Park, said he hasn't seen an increase in attendance this year. Although the pool hit its 424-person capacity several times last year, Kunkel said that hasn't happened this year.

The summer heat did keep some people busy.

Nick Aravanis, owner of AirCare Mechanical Inc. in Smithsburg, fixes and installs air conditioners. He said his call volume nearly doubled this year because of the heat.

"Instead of the usual nine to 15 calls a day, we've been getting 20 to 25 calls," Aravanis said.

His technicians often spent 12 hours a day fixing and replacing overworked air conditioners.

"It makes for long days and some weekends," he said.

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