Severe Heat Moves into AreaToby Skelley, 7, stands under a stream of water on Thursday at the "Spray and Play" at Warner Park in Chattanooga. It was Skelley's first time visiting the spray park this year. The spray park and adjoining pool were filled with people trying to escape the sweltering temperatures which hit triple digits Thursday.
Thomas Irick has no air-conditioned home. In fact, he has no home at all.
The shade of a tree off McCallie Avenue in the Salvation Army's parking lot is the closest thing to relief he got from Thursday's scorching triple-digit heat.
"It's hotter than hell's doorknob," Irick said. "I try to stay in the shade. I don't move much. I sleep outside, and it doesn't even cool off at night.
"Thank god for the Salvation Army and that water jug over there," Irick added, motioning to a large orange water jug in front of the Salvation Army's front doors.
If Thursday's temperature of 101, which did not break the 104-degree record set in 1952, was comparable to "hell's doorknob," then that free water-dispensing jug will act as a holy grail of relief for the community over the next few days.
Weather officials are echoing each other, predicting 102 degrees for Friday, and a 103 degrees on Saturday. Those temperatures, which would tie with 1936 and 1952 respectively, are a precursor to more triple-digit weather on Sunday and Monday.
"It's going to be hot. I've given the warning," WRCB-TV Channel 3 Chief Meteorologist Barys said of Sunday's forecasted 103 degrees and Monday's 100 degrees. "Just use common sense. Check on the elderly and protect your pets. Take plenty of breaks, too."
An usually strong ridge of high pressure is affecting not just Chattanooga, but most of the country, according to Sam Roberts, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn. The stagnant, stable air is making it difficult for another weather system to move in, he said.
Gearing their efforts toward low-income residents and the homeless community, the Salvation Army has seen an influx of people seeking relief from the oppressive temperatures, Director of Marketing and Development Kimberly George said.
"There were 140 people inside the cafe trying to get out of the heat today," she said. "Normally, there are 65 [people]."
The Salvation Army is currently holding a fan drive, accepting donated, new fans from the community. They are 55 fans short of the 200-person wait list, she said.
The jug of water outside the Salvation Army is checked every hour, as it has experienced a lot of traffic from people passing by in need of a refreshment, George said.
Malone Heat and Air is experiencing a "very high call volume" of customers saying their air conditioning units are not keeping the house at a comfortable temperature, according to Vice President Jimmy Malone.
"The units are not designed for the 100-plus temperatures," he said, with the phone in the background ringing relentlessly. "A lot of it has to do with the unit being dirty. It would still struggle in the heat if it was clean, but not as bad."
Dry weather makes for a dry landscape, making the terrain more susceptible to brush and grass fires. A no-burn order was issued in May to combat them, Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman Bruce Garner said.
"Now more than ever, you should take heed to that," he said. "And watch those cigarette butts."