Officials: Record-setting heat staying through Friday
JANESVILLE Wednesday’s record-breaking holiday heat sent about a dozen people to Janesville hospitals and likely caused a grass fire southwest of Janesville, officials said.
A high of 104 degrees with a heat index of 103 was reported at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, while Lake Geneva hit 100 with a heat index of 106, according to the National Weather Service in Sullivan.
While the weather service doesn’t track Janesville record temperatures, Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford, Ill., all broke records Wednesday, meteorologist Jake Wimberley said.
Janesville firefighters responded around 6 p.m. to a grass fire near Tracey and Tripp roads, Fire Department Shift Commander Bill Ruchti said. Firefighters think spontaneous combustion ignited a pile of grass clippings in a ditch and spread along the ditch line and about an acre of the field.
Janesville fire paramedics transported only one person for possible heat stroke as of 7:30 p.m., Ruchti said.
“I think what’s happening is people realize it’s super hot and people are staying where it’s cool,” he said.
The emergency room at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center treated about a dozen cases of heat-related illnesses as of 7:30 p.m., registered nurse Jacob Fuhrman said. People were coming in pretty dehydrated.
St. Mary’s Janesville Hospital reported two cases of heat exhaustion at the emergency department.
An excessive heat warning remains in effect for southeast and south central Wisconsin until 10 p.m. Friday. The forecast high for Janesville today is 103 degrees and 100 on Friday, according to the weather service. Temperatures begin to drop Saturday, with a forecast high of 89 and a chance of thunderstorms.
The hottest day on record at the Afton reporting site was 102 degrees on Aug. 1, 1988, said Wimberley, though he didn’t know when Afton started reporting data. The hottest July 4 on record there was 91 in 1989.
The longest string of consecutive days—five—where temperatures hit 100 degrees or higher in Madison was in 1936, he said. He didn’t anticipate beating that record, but the city today could add to the four different occasions when temperatures surpassed 100 degrees for two consecutive days.