It's too dang hot

It's too dang hot

It was hot no matter where you were Tuesday in Southern Oregon, but how hot depended on where you were.

The temperature soared to 108 degrees at the Medford airport, breaking the previous record of 105 for July 28, set in 2003.

Temperatures can vary quite a bit, as anybody knows who climbs into a closed car on a hot day. In an unscientific survey, the Mail Tribune took temperature readings at several locations around Medford with a brand-new digital thermometer.

The lifeguards at Hawthorne Pool had one of the hottest seats in town — it was 127 degrees in one of the lifeguard chairs at the shallow end of the pool. Neil Robinson, 17, one of the lifeguards, managed to avoid the heat by scooting a chair into poolside shade, where the air was still 107 degrees, but he could watch over the kids learning to swim.

"I drink lots of water and jump in every once in a while (to keep cool)," Robinson said.

Surrounded by bricks and pavement, Vogel Park in downtown felt like an oven at midafternoon. The empty chair across from the bronze "chess player" statue could have scorched anyone unwise enough to sit in it. The surface of the chair was 128 degrees.

One man curled up in the shade on the plaza cobblestones just out of range of the fountains where Casey Grafton, 36, tried to cool down. When she wasn't sitting in the shade drinking ice water she stood over the fountains. She said getting wet helped her forget about the 110 degree heat on the bricks.

Construction workers were drinking plenty of water to keep them going.

"I drank two gallons (Monday)," said Cliff Oxford, 49, diverting traffic while workers demolished the old bridge over Bear Creek on Barnett Road to prepare for a new bridge.

"It keeps you urinating about every two hours," he said.

Oxford directed cars away from the demolition zone for eight hours Tuesday. The thermometer read 106 degrees just as he started his shift at 2:30 p.m. He said his hard hat traps the heat around his head.

"You can't just be standing around here in the heat," he said, as a steady stream of sweat trickled off his forehead. "I'd rather be out there with (the construction workers) moving around. But everybody's got a part to play."

Barely a block away at Medford's skate park, three groups of teens huddled beneath trees, too hot to skate but too dedicated to go home.

"The locals skate here everyday," said 18-year-old Brandon Joseph, a recent graduate of Phoenix High School. "A hundred and eight (degrees) is pretty hot but 80, 90 — those are pretty good temperatures."

Actually, the air temperature at the skate park was a mere 104 degrees, but the pavement on top of one of the jumps was 126.

"You get burnt when you fall," Joseph said.

A mile east, the big thermometer outside Chase Bank read 109 degrees, while the Mail Tribune's thermometer registered 107 degrees.

Bank thermometer temperatures often read hotter than the actual temperature because they are in the direct sunlight. Without a white shield to circulate air around the thermometer, the air is stagnant, therefore hotter, explained Kelly Sugden, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

From the searing pavement outside the bank to center field at the North Medford High School's junior varsity soccer field, the temperature dropped two degrees, to 105, by 4:45 p.m. Fortunately, the girls' soccer team doesn't practice till 6 p.m.

"It's still hot but the wind picks up a little," said Rich Garcia, the NMHS girl's head coach. "Nothing is more important than staying hydrated. I don't run (the girls) either, 'cause that would kill them."

Reach intern Teresa Thomas at 776-4464.

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