Students survive region’s sweltering heat, intense drought

By Rachel Sheidler, Staff Writer

It’s likely a case of too little, too late.

The rain that eluded the Miami Valley for much of the summer moved through the Miami Valley on Labor Day weekend — courtesy of the remnants of Hurricane Isaac. But the scattered showers that dampened some holiday plans aren’t likely to make a huge difference in the overall drought conditions.

Like much of the nation, Kettering is in the grips of one of the worst droughts and heat waves this area has seen in a long time. While cacti aren’t growing out of the ground and tumbleweeds aren’t blowing down the street, it’s no secret that this has been a really difficult summer.

According to the Drought Monitor map, as of Aug. 28, 2012, 62.89 percent of the contiguous United States was in at least a moderate drought, 42.34 percent in at least a severe drought, 23.18 percent in at least an extreme drought, and 6.04 percent of the nation was in an exceptional drought.

While some believe this is the worst drought the country has seen, it isn’t nearly as bad as the drought in July 1934, when roughly 80 percent of the United States was in a moderate drought.

Nevertheless, the current drought has still majorly affected the country, including Ohio.  According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, as of Aug. 14, 2012, 62.1 percent of Ohio was categorized in at least moderate drought, a significant improvement from July 17, 2012, when 98.3 percent of the state was in at least a moderate drought.

“This has been a major event for us,” said WDTN-TV meteorologist Brian Davis. “Many of the corn crops around the Miami Valley have been seriously harmed by the hot and dry conditions.”

While Ohio is slowly recuperating from the lack of rainfall, the area still needs a significant amount of rainfall before the drought is over.  “We need about 8.5 inches of rain to get back to normal for the year.  We were well above normal last year,” said Davis.

If the drought wasn’t bad enough, higher-than-normal temperatures made the summer even more excruciating.  After all, what would a drought be without sweltering heat?

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the average temperature in Dayton during July was 90.32 degrees.

Despite the intense heat in the middle of summer, many Fairmont athletes, Color Guard and band members still managed to withstand the heat long enough to get their practices in.  However, the heat did have a dramatic affect on when and where the Marching Band practiced.

“There were days we couldn’t even be outside because it was so hot,” said senior band member Tonnie Roberts. “We made sure to drink a lot of water before and during practice and eat healthy.”

According to senior football player Danny Sales, the heat hasn’t affected their practice schedule at all.  Despite the conditions, the team still practices daily. However, they still take extra precaution during practice. “Coach will watch the temperature and make sure we get enough water breaks,” said Sales.

Junior band member Sophie Lockhart knows how important it is to be protected from the sun. “I go through so much water. Over the summer, I usually went through a gallon of water and an extra water bottle at lunch. I always wear a hat. It keeps the sun out of my eyes,” said Lockhart.

However, other band members weren’t as prepared. “The first week of summer rehearsals was really rough. A lot of kids sat out and were getting sick because of the heat,” said Lockhart. “Some weren’t dressed for it, or maybe didn’t bring enough water, but even some kids who were prepared ended up sitting in the shade for awhile.”

One of the major concerns about being outside for long periods of time during scorching hot days is heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs mainly because of dehydration and can be fatal if not treated properly. Symptoms include a rapid pulse, confusion, a high body temperature, difficulty breathing and sometimes even a seizure.

The most effective way to prevent heat stroke is to simply keep hydrated. Roberts learned this lesson the hard way this past summer. “I had a severe heat stroke while working as a lifeguard. My kidneys were shutting down because I was so dehydrated,” said Roberts.  “I was in the hospital for a day and I’m very lucky I was OK.”

As fall is rapidly approaching, most are hoping for some cooler weather and a few refreshing showers. Some, however, are wondering what the upcoming winter will bring as a result from this arid summer.

But rest assured, Davis makes it clear that “a dry summer doesn’t necessarily mean a wet winter.”