Weather has area residents looking for ways to keep cool

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John Heller, Post-Gazette
Suzie Martin, 19, of Sewickley, right, blasts off the Board Walk Blaster at Sandcastle in West Homestead yesterday. The water park is in its 19th season. A spokeswoman said high temperatures made this the park's biggest weekend this season.
By Nate Guidry
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

With the temperatures inching close to heat wave proximity yesterday, area residents took advantage of the hazy, humid July weather, boating, rafting, swimming and, in the case of Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo, cooling down under a soaked towel.

Casey Harbert, 6, of White Oak, was a little more adventuresome.

Yesterday, she and her mother, Joelle, decided to spend the afternoon sliding down the spillway of the Kingston Dam on Loyalhanna Creek in Unity. Casey and her mother were enjoying the water while dad, Lenny, fished nearby.

Although yesterday's high reached only 87 degrees, the National Weather Service said temperatures are expected to rise higher today and tomorrow, reaching in excess of 92 degrees.

Yesterday's high was reached just after 3 p.m. The record high for July 8 was 99, set in 1988.

Meteorologist Terry Parrish said the warm temperatures are due to a high pressure system sitting over the area that has caused a light southward flow of warm humid air.

Mr. Parrish said things will be a bit cooler on Wednesday after rain and thunderstorms sweep through the region, causing temperatures to drop into the low 80s.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in the 90s today. The record high for the day was 101, set in 1936.

The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Saturday that an "air quality action" day was forecast for today in Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland counties. The forecast says today will be Code Orange for fine particulates.

Air quality action days are declared at orange and red status when fine particulate matter reaches unhealthy levels.

Ground-level ozone, a key component of smog, forms during warm weather when pollution from vehicles, industry, households and power plants "bakes" in the hot sun, making it hard for some people to breathe.

On air quality action days, young children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems, such as asthma, emphysema and bronchitis, are especially vulnerable to the effects of air pollution and should limit outdoor activities.

Peter Diana, Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Jose Castillo keeps cool during the Cubs vs. Bucs game yesterday afternoon at PNC Park.
Click photo for larger image.Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette
Casey Harbert slides down the spillway of the Kingston Dam toward her mother, Joelle, yesterday in the Loyalhanna Creek.
Click photo for larger image.

Nate Guidry can be reached at or 412-263-3865.


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