Updated 2:55 p.m.:
With an excessive heat watch issued for most of the state for the next three days, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is asking people to take precautions and to call 2-1-1 if they need information on cooling centers in their town or city.
“We are asking the public to take precautions during this heat wave. The combination of heat and humidity will result in poor air quality and dangerous conditions for the elderly, young children, and those people with respiratory conditions,” said Malloy. “Drinking lots of water and taking cool showers can help lower body temperature, and residents of all ages should call 2-1-1 to find a place to cool down should they need to. For those with elderly neighbors, please consider checking in on them during this extreme heat as well.”
“Hot and sticky weather is a part of life in Connecticut during the summer months, but the combination of high temperatures and high levels of humidity we’ll be experiencing over the next few days can be downright dangerous,” said Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Rueben F. Bradford. “Limit your outdoor exposure, and if you do need to go outside, make sure to wear sunscreen and drink lots of water. We’re also reminding people to avoid leaving children, pets or those who require special care in a parked car or vehicle during periods of intense summer heat.”
“Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others,” said Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “It’s important to regularly check on infants and young children, people aged 65 or older, and others who you know may be at greatest risk due to the heat.”
2-1-1 is continually updating the list of available cooling centers. Dial 2-1-1 or search www.211ct.org to find a center.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has forecasted unhealthy air quality due to elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution throughout all of Connecticut for Thursday, July 21, 2011 and Friday July 22, 2011.
A forecast of “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” (Code Orange) has been issued due to high concentrations of ground-level ozone for Thursday, July 21, 2011 and possible “Unhealthy” levels (Code Red) by Friday July 22, 2011 when the core of hottest air mass moves into the region. Link to current Air Quality Levels in CT: http://www.epa.gov/airnow/current/ct-aqi_current_hour.gif
The oppressive heat and humidity hovering over the region won't be moving on anytime soon - the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection has issued a heat advisory for the remainder of the week.
And because of the heat, town officials have coordinated the opening of several cooling centers for the public to use. The National Weather Service is predicting the heat index could be as high as 110 degrees as temperatures and humidity increase between now and Saturday. (Please see accompanying chart to calculate the heat index.)
In Greenwich, several public buildings - including the and its affiliates - have been designated as cooling centers beginning Wednesday, according Daniel Warzoha, Greenwich Emergency Management Director.
In addition to Greenwich, and the libraries, the in Old Greenwich, the Greenwich Senior Center and the on Pemberwick Road, all are designated as cooling centers. All will be open during regular business hours. (Click on the links for hours of each facility.)
According to Greenwich Library spokeswoman Kate Petrov on Wednesday, it appeared the library was a bit more crowded than usual. "The library is a perfect play to chill out on a hot day," Petrov said.
Warzoha also said that the lobby of the Greenwich Public Safety Complex - also known as Greenwich Police headquarters at 11 Bruce Pl. - will be open for the community 24 hours a day. In the event of a major event, such as fire, other rooms in the public safety complex and the Western Greenwich Civic Center will be opened beyond regular business hours.
As of noon Wednesday, officials said they have not had any reported heat-related incidents or power outages. Warzoha said officials are concerned the heat wave will impact several outdoor events planned throughout town this week including the 's annual sidewalk sales days which begin Thursday and continue through Sunday.
Warzoha said, "The power grid in Greenwich has always had a history of making it through the heat wave. It's usually the third day that's the tell-tale sign, that's when things start to go askew."
He explained, "Tonight it won't be bad unless there is some big cable failure, the overnight cooling of the cables won't be bad, but on Thursday, there won't be any cooling at night (with predicted overnight lows of near 80) On Friday, the factors that come into play is that a lot of people go away for vacation, schools are not in session. There are a lot of companies with summer hours, leaving early and powering down office equipment, so they may be a big help. We shall see."
Connecticut Light & Power is continuing its work to upgrade its infrastructure throughout the Greenwich power grid, in an attempt to minimize the possibility of major power outages such as the ones which plagued several town areas last month.
As part of the town's planning efforts over the last two days, , Warzoha said the town has coordinated with Connecticut Transit to use its buses as mobile cooling centers in the event there is a major event.
* This story has been updated to include Greenwich Library patron attendance information.