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Coping with the heat
Unusually hot weather troubles farmers, poses danger
052411 HEAT 02 web
Some cattle seek some relief from the heat beneath an oak tree near Brooklet Tuesday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Unusually toasty temperatures have people switching on the air conditioning, hitting the beaches and irrigating crops earlier than usual. Statesboro has been roasting in the high 90s, and weather experts say no real relief is coming anytime soon.
    A few scattered thunderstorms might sprinkle local areas Friday afternoon and evening, but after that, it’s quite possible the high pressure keeping it hot may rebuild, said National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Thacker.
    It’s quite unusual for May to bring such high temperatures to our area, he said. But Statesboro has been in the high 90s for the past several days and possibly approached 100 degrees in places, he said.
    Farmers are irrigating earlier than normal, some even soaking the fields in order to plant, said Jason Gatch, soil conservationist with the Bulloch Natural Resources and Conservation office.
    Farmers have had a time, with weather being “very difficult with things being so dry,” he said. Corn that has already been planted is dry and twisting (leaves curing into funnels to conserve moisture) and some farmers are irrigating land in order to be able to plant new crops, he said.
    Normally, this time of year, the soil already has enough moisture for planting, he said. But with the drought-like conditions, people are irrigating ahead of schedule for planting and “irrigating corn just to keep it alive.”
    It isn’t just farmers affected by the heat, however. With the unexpectedly high temperatures baking the earth so early, citizens should take precautions when outside, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.
     He advises keeping hydrated. “Drink more fluids non-alcoholic,” he said. “Stay indoors if possible. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothes.”
    Also, not even for a minute, should you leave people and pets in parked cars, he said. Check on those who live alone.  The temperatures, even with windows cracked or rolled down, can escalate to dangerous levels in a short time. Wynn also recommends limiting time outdoors during high temperatures, protect the skin with high SPF (sun protection factor) lotions and take breaks, he said.
    Hopefully, Friday will bring some relief, even if temporary, he said. “It looks like maybe some relief possibly this weekend with the possibility of showers. Hopefully not what Joplin experienced, however,” he added, referring to the devastating tornado that killed nearly 120 people earlier this week.
   
    Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.
   

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