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In near 100-degree heat, La Grande Country Club groundskeepers Alexander Miles, left, and Sean Hurlbut make their way to the sprinklers around the golf course in Island City trying to keep fairways and greens, and themselves, moist and cool during this hot stretch of weather. (Chris Baxter/The Observer)
The mercury may not have reached the triple digits as was forecast, but La Grande has been unseasonably warm the past week or so.
Temperatures reached 99 degrees Monday and Tuesday, but high humidity had the heat index hovering around 100 degrees.
“We are still well above normal,” Vincent Papol, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Portland, said. “Strong high pressure to our south provided these very hot conditions.”
That 99-degree mark is a local record for July 1 and July 2, according to the NWS website. Previous records for both dates were 96 degrees set in 1987 (July 1) and 1986 (July 2).
The average for the beginning of July is 81 degrees.
“We did have a number of our records that were broken,” Papol said.
Pendleton reached a record high of 105, Yakima, Wash., and Walla Walla, Wash., reached 106 and John Day reported a record high of 102.
For La Grande Country Club Golf Course groundskeepers, the high temperatures mean working longer hours.
“It takes a toll on the course,” said groundskeeper Alexander Miles. “Keeping it cool and wet is a challenge.”
Miles said he and Sean Hurlbut have had to adjust their schedules in order to water later in the afternoons. He said he has noticed that more golfers are coming in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day.
“It’s been hot,” Miles said. “Working with sprinklers helps.”
The extreme temperatures may be affecting lawns, but Grande Ronde Hospital has not seen many problems with the heat, said family nurse practitioner Vicki Hill Brown.
“We are not aware of anyone coming in with any heat-related illnesses, which is surprising,” she said.
The forecast shows above-average temperatures dropping off within a few days.
“It should be a little cooler toward the end of the work week,” Papol said.
Temperatures for the Fourth of July holiday will cool slightly, with highs in the upper 80s to lower 90s. Friday should be a little cooler, with highs in the low to mid 80s.
Brown said dropping temperatures do not mean everyone is out of the clear for heat exhaustion.
“All summer people need to be aware,” she said. “Those high risk people, young children and adults over 65, even though it’s not that hot, they are still at risk. People need to be cognizant of that. Even down into the 80s and 90s, if you’re not in an air-conditioned environment, you’re at risk.”