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Mile High Swelter

This was my first front page story and was the most extensive, as far as reporting, that I ever wrote for the Rocky. It was hot trudging around in the heat in my business casual clothes and dress shoes, but it was also fun.

MILE HIGH SWELTER – NO BREAK EXPECTED IN 90-DEGREE-PLUS HEAT UNTIL MAYBE MONDAY

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – July 21, 2005

Author: ClaytonWoullard , Rocky Mountain News

Staff writer Bill Scanlon contributed to this report.

It was so hot in Denver on Wednesday…

How hot was it?

So hot that Denver tied its record for the hottest day ever in the city, peaking at 105 degrees at Denver International Airport. The last time the thermometer zoomed that high was Aug. 8, 1878.

So hot that at Starbucks stores, servers couldn’t make iced Frapuccinos fast enough.

So hot that Candlelight Heating and Air had a one-week wait for air- conditioning installation, with 13 emergency calls to answer Wednesday evening.

And more of the same could be on tap for today.

CBS 4 News meteorologist Larry Green predicted that temperatures would reach 108 degrees downtown today and 105 at DIA.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Fredin predicted 101 for today, but said the temperature could very well break today’s record.

“We’re setting records and it’s notable, but it’s around our hottest week of the year,” Fredin said.

He said the sweltering weather is expected to continue into the weekend, and temperatures should dip back into the high 80s by Monday.

On Wednesday at Elitch Gardens, five couples took the plunge – literally.

They exchanged marriage vows, kissed and slid down the EDGE water slide, Elitch Gardens’ new four-story water ride at its Island Kingdom water park.

“It was a whole lot less stress (in the) planning,” said Chad Martin, 27, who took the first trip down the slide with his bride and high school sweetheart, Jamie Martin, 26, both of Castle Rock.

The ceremony was part of an event put on by Six Flags and country station KYGO whose “Right Reverend” Johnny Wilde presided.

“They gave a whole new meaning to cold feet,” Chad Martin said. “But not cold feet in the sense that I wanted to run.”

Not too far away, kids and adults found refuge in the cool waters of the Lincoln Park pool at West 11th Avenue and Osage Street, where some youngsters have been hanging out for weeks.

“It feels like 142,” said Michael Hays, 13. “You could boil an egg on the ground.”

Hays said he’s been at the pool every day this week, from opening to closing time.

But Nicole Carnza, 14, said she’s been at the pool every day this summer, from swim team practice at 10 a.m. to when the pool closes at 5 p.m.”Staying in the house all day is not worth it,” Carnza said.

Margaret Larkin, 42, who was lying poolside Wednesday, said she had to get to the pool because it was cooler outside than in her apartment, which lacks air conditioning.

“Kids need to burn energy, and this is the best way to do it,” Larkin said.

“Either that or have a water balloon fight.”

Trina McGuire-Collier, spokeswoman for Denver Water, said 425 million gallons of water were used Tuesday. And Wednesday’s use may have topped that.

“This will be the week where we see the highest use, but I don’t think it will compare to pre-drought usage,” McGuire-Collier said.

Tom Henley of Xcel Energy said the utility hit a record power use of 6,655 megawatts Tuesday and had 56 transformers go down, with 48 failures caused by the heat. He said early numbers showed only 200 megawatts less were used by customers on Wednesday.

Officials said they were pleasantly surprised at the low number of heat-related health problems.

“We haven’t had any appreciable heat illness here,” said Dr. Jason Haukoos, attending physician at Denver Health’s emergency room.

Most at risk are the elderly – who often are on medications that keep them from being aware that they’re very hot – and the young – who can’t escape the heat or communicate their discomfort.

Dozens of homeless people filed into Denver Rescue Mission’s air-conditioned chapel Wednesday and were given water, lemonade and punch.

“When it’s hotter than 95 degrees, we open our doors during the day,” said Greta Ritchey, spokeswoman for the mission in lower downtown.

“This isn’t hot,” said Jeff Baker, sitting on one of the 140 folding chairs in the chapel. “There’s only one secret to beating the heat – drink a lot of water.”

Sonny Naylor said the past three days have been so hot that it’s hurt his respiratory system. “I don’t know if it’s the pollution or if it is just scoring my lungs.”

He said he would take the cold of winter to the 100-plus-degree days.

Memo: Banner p.1A – 105° / It’s never been hotter in Denver: City ties all-time mark, aims for 108° today.

Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 4A
Record Number: 0507220090
Copyright (c) 2005 Rocky Mountain News

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