Jessica Stamm spends her days with up to nine dogs, big and small, in her home in Biscayne Park. With temperatures in the 90s throughout the week, Stamm knows the dogs will be indoors almost all day, every day.
“We’re inside 95 percent of the time,” Stamm said. The dogs “don’t go out when it’s really hot for a long duration of time.”
Stamm, a dog sitter for Four Legged Pet Care, says she doesn’t allow the heat to affect the dogs.
“The dogs go outside to take care of business, then I bring them back in. In the evening, I’ll let them stay out longer,” Stamm said.
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South Florida’s temperatures have been hotter than normal, fueled by a lack of rain, resulting in sun-parched, humid days. A high-pressure system over the Atlantic — combined with Saharan dust drifting more than 4,000 miles from Africa — is making it feel like 90 degrees by 9 a.m., said Meteorologist Barry Baxter of the National Weather Service in Miami.
“The temperatures we’re seeing right now are typical of the late July, early August period,” said Robert Molleda, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami. “The hotter temperatures due to a lack of rain are lasting longer in the noon hours.”
High chances of rain near the end of the week and into the weekend will offer some relief from the summer heat. Until then, it’s critical for South Floridians to hydrate, keep out of the sun during peak periods (including children and pets) and wear hats and protective clothing to stave off serious heat-related problems.
Campers and counselors at Miami-Dade day camps take precautions to avoid heat-related injuries.
“We stress that counselors rotate hourly between active and passive,” Renae Nottage, superintendent for health and fitness of Miami-Dade County parks, said in an email. “Additionally, there are frequent water breaks and water coolers posted outdoors for easy access by campers.”
Campers at the William H. Kerdyk Biltmore Tennis Center in Coral Gables cool off every day with a quick swim.
“To really cool off, we do a daily trip to the Venetian Pool,” said Robert Gomez, director of tennis for the center. “It’s the cool-off of all cool-offs.”
Gomez said campers are also encouraged to drink water throughout the day and to take breaks in the shaded canopies in between the tennis courts.
Scott Reynolds, operations supervisor of Miami Beach Ocean Rescue, says temperatures will only get hotter.
“It’s gonna get a whole lot hotter before July and August are over,” Reynolds said. “I advise people to drink lots of water and fluids, stay in the shade as much as possible, and swim near the lifeguards.”
Jonathan Da Silva, owner of Flawless Mobile Detailing, has felt the heat. Last week, he scrubbed down a BMW in front of a Tamarac office complex, his flipflop-clad feet standing in water.
“I drink at least six to 10 little water bottles a day, or you won’t survive with the heat,’’ he said.
Gino Giusti, an employee at Fort Lauderdale beach, drinks lots and lots of water to cool down during the 90-degree heat. (Water is much better than sweetened soft drinks or diet drinks for quenching your thirst.)
Thanks to strong high pressure over the Atlantic, which promotes sunshine and blocks rain, the region likely will continue to sweat until the end of the week — if not for the rest of the summer, said Baxter of the National Weather Service.
His recommendation to beat the heat: “Go inside to a cool place during the hottest time of day, which is usually between 1 and 4 p.m.’’
Expect the heat to increase over the next two months. The average high temperature at the beginning of July is 90 degrees. From mid-July through mid-August it climbs to 91 degrees.
Adding to South Florida’s hot, parched conditions has been a lack of rain, Baxter said. Since June 1, Fort Lauderdale has received 4.71 inches less rain than normal, Miami, 3.28 inches less and West Palm Beach, 2.45 inches less.
June normally is South Florida’s wettest month, producing just under 10 inches of rain.
The lack of rain also has resulted in severe drought conditions spreading into central Miami-Dade County, moderate drought conditions in Broward County and abnormally dry conditions in Palm Beach County.
If the dry trend continues, the South Florida Water Management District likely will tighten water restrictions. The district said the lack of rain already has resulted in water levels of canals and lakes declining.
And people are making accommodations.
At Tamarac’s golf course, Colony West, more people are starting their games very early in the day or later in the day, said city spokeswoman Elise Boston.
“A round takes about four hours, so this keeps golfers clear of the hottest hours in the day,” she said. And the roving beverage cart carries a special cargo: towels packed in ice to help golfers bring down their body heat.
Sun Sentinel reporters Lisa J. Huriash and Ken Kaye contributed to this report.
Tips to survive the heat
▪ Drink plenty of water. "If your mouth is dry, you're way behind on water intake," said Joel Gordon, Plantation Fire Department spokesman.
▪ Take frequent breaks if working outside.
▪ Keep your head covered.
▪ Avoid caffeine, energy drinks and fatty foods. Those items speed up the metabolism, which causes people to dehydrate faster.
▪ Reschedule outdoor activities if you can.
▪ Avoid drugs and alcohol.
Sources: Tamarac Fire Chief Mike Burton and Plantation Fire Department spokesman Joel Gordon