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Summer heat setting records


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Summer heat setting records

Saturday, July 23, 2005; Posted: 1:36 p.m. EDT (17:36 GMT)




Saturday, July 23, 2005; Posted: 1:36 p.m. EDT (17:36 GMT)



Heat records across the West:


• Las Vegas, Nevada, reached 117 Tuesday, tying the record set in 1942.


• Reno, Nevada, set a record for that city's most consecutive days of 100-degree heat in a row -- 10.


• Tucson, Arizona, has reached at least 100 degrees 39 days in a row, tying the record.


• Denver, Colorado, tied its record for the hottest day of all time with 105 degrees on Wednesday.


• Grand Junction, Colorado, set a heat record Thursday with 106 degrees.


•Big Bear Lake, California, hit 94 degrees on Monday, the highest ever recorded.


•200 cities and towns in the West set daily record highs this week.


LAS VEGAS, Nevada (AP) -- When it's 117 degrees, the beads of sweat feel as big as golf balls, and gamblers still want their cars parked. Casino valet attendants have only one hope: Pray for a Cadillac.


"Cadillacs are awesome. The Cadillac A/C just fires right up," Tommy Clements said as he shuttled cars at Boulder Station hotel-casino.


Sure, people all over the country are complaining about record heat this week. But for the straight story, talk to those who head out into the midday Las Vegas sun to make a living. They are the ones who must know how to hack the heat.


Somehow, life goes on in the desert, even when logic and a decent thermometer suggest it's time to seek shelter and a cold drink. That's not an option when you're an air conditioning repairman, a mail carrier or countless others who just have to find a way to cope and carry on.


How do they do it? Lots of water and a good sweat rag, they say _ and plenty of rest breaks in the shade.


Dale Curry, a 56-year-old electrician at a construction site, feels like a turkey on Thanksgiving Day, one that's been getting crispy for hours. He guzzles water and rests, but still he aches and can hardly move when the temperature spikes.


He often utters a few choice words, but "it's not a language for small children and ladies," he said.


Even in a place accustomed to triple-digit heat, this has been one hot summer already. Tuesday's 117 degrees tied the record set in 1942.


And don't try dismissing it as a dry heat. Twenty-one people, mostly homeless, have died from similar heat in neighboring Arizona, and authorities in Las Vegas are investigating whether 10 deaths were heat-related.


Step outside if you dare, and see how long it takes for the sweat to start trickling down your cheeks and back. Air conditioners are pumping overtime, errands are run in the morning and at night, parks are deserted until after sundown and only the brave or the crazy hit the links in the middle of the day, despite discounts at some courses. Some construction crews have shifted work to nighttime to try to beat the heat.


This kind of heat cracks dashboards, makes steering wheels too hot to grip and fries feet unfortunate enough to touch pavement. Even swimming pools offer little relief because of bathtub-like temperatures.


Those who must venture outside try the all-A/C route: from air-conditioned homes to air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned shops and offices.


And then there are guys like Darnell Newman, a sales director at Findlay Toyota who has to pound the pavement when a customer wants to look around the car lot.


He came from California in March and is near deciding that Vegas isn't for him.


This, he said, this is crazy.


"I've never dealt with anything like this. I almost had a heat stroke," he said, grabbing some shade by the dealership's doors while he could.


John Graybill, owner of Aire-force One air conditioning repair company, endures even hotter temperatures atop roofs when he becomes the savior in the desert for sweltering customers. His phone hasn't stopped ringing this week, but he takes the summer in stride.


"Heat is heat," he said. "It's part of the job."


Workers atop the Stratosphere hotel-casino gulp water as fast they can. There is no shade, just exhausted, parched and broiling thrill ride operators.


Security officer Joseph Cunico spends four hours a day patrolling the tower pod 906 feet up.


"When you first come up you almost get to the point where you can't stand it," he said.


This summer, Bob McAndrew might be the luckiest guy in Las Vegas. He delivers milk for Anderson Dairy and when the heat starts inching up, he climbs into the back of his truck, where it's a cool, refreshing 40 degrees.


"Never seen it hotter," he said, taking his lunch break inside his truck. "It's a killer."


But no streak lasts forever in Las Vegas, even when it comes to the weather. Temperatures have eased from the terrible teens and will come in under 110 this weekend and next week.


"So we've got a cold wave for Vegas," Cunico joked.



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