Cooling centers are opening in southern Maine as high humidity and rising temperatures will make it feel like it’s 100 degrees or more in some parts of the state this week.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for much of the state, including Cumberland and York counties, that began at noon Wednesday and remains in effect through 8 p.m. Friday. Heat index values of up to 102 are expected as high temperatures and humidity grip the region, meaning it will feel like it’s 102 degrees even though actual temperatures will reach the 90s.

The weather service warned that the weather conditions could cause heat-related illness and urged Mainers to take precautions, such as staying out of the direct sun and avoiding strenuous activity during the hottest parts of the day.

In addition, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued a warning about elevated ground-level ozone concentrations that are expected in southern coastal areas on Thursday. Ozone, a component of smog that forms when pollutants combine with heat and sunshine, can cause lung irritation or distress, especially in children, adults who exert themselves and individuals suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma.

Face coverings are required or recommended in all southern Maine cooling centers because of high transmission rates of the delta variant that’s driving a surge of COVID-19 cases.

In Portland, city officials have opened a cooling center at the Troubh Ice Arena on Park Avenue. The public is welcome to sit on the bleachers to cool off from the heat between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day through Friday.

South Portland’s community center and main library also will be available as cooling centers this week. The community center is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, and will be again at those hours through Friday. The main library was open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, and will be again at those hours through Friday.

The Scarborough Public Library was open as a cooling center from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, and will be again at those hours on Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday.

Three locations in Falmouth are available as cooling centers this week. The Family Ice Arena on Hat Trick Drive is open on weekdays from 4 a.m. to midnight. The Mason-Motz Activity Center on Middle Road was open Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and will be again at those hours on Thursday, and on Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. The Falmouth Memorial Library on Lunt Road is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday.

The weather service says heat and humidity will continue through Friday afternoon, with the heat index ranging from the middle 90s to 100 degrees or more in some areas. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.

Overnight temperatures are expected to drop only to the 70s, providing little relief from the heat.

Thursday is expected to be the peak of the hot weather, according to the weather service. A few showers and thunderstorms are possible each afternoon and evening before a cold front arrives Saturday, brining more widespread showers and thunderstorms to the region, according to the weather service.

More seasonable temperatures and lower humidity are expected to return Sunday through the middle of next week.

The weather service advisory says people should take extra precautions to avoid illness if they work or spend time outside. When possible, people should reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or early evening. The weather service also advises people to know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing, and take frequent breaks.

Signs of heat stroke include a high body temperature, a fast, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, confusion and loss of consciousness. Heat stroke is an emergency and 911 should be called immediately, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating; cold, pale and clammy skin; a fast, weak pulse; muscle cramps; nausea or vomiting; tiredness or weakness and dizziness. If you are experiencing heat exhaustion, you should move to a cool place, loosen your clothes, sip water and put cool, wet cloths on your body, according to the CDC.

Similar precautions are advised because of ground-level ozone, including avoiding strenuous outdoor activities.


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