98 degrees came to Ann Arbor last week.

Paul Wong
Allison Miller plays with her four-year-old daughter Maggie at the Buhr Park pool. Local Ann Arbor pools were packed last week as residents tried to escape the heat.<br><br>ABBY ROSENBAUM/Daily

But instead of sweet sounds and carefully choreographed dance routines, this 98 degrees brought with it heat indices in the 110 degree range, humidity that hovered around 50 percent and virtually no precipitation.

Students, along with everyone else, cowered indoors or underwater. Pools were jammed. Customers flocked to local businesses not only to shop but to cool off.

When the mercury topped out at 98 degrees August 8, it set a record for that date. It was hot enough to cook a steak on the dashboard of a car in just seven hours, said University Weather Observer Dennis Kahlbaum.

“Thankfully we have air-conditioning,” said LSA junior Andy Benway. “This month the bill”s been pretty high. We”ve had it on 24/7 thank God!” Benway also said many of his friends who aren”t fortunate enough to have air conditioning have been coming over to hang out and stay cool. The story was similar throughout Ann Arbor.

“We did have more customers in the store just escaping the heat. We have great air conditioning,” said Sarah Boylan, field national events specialist for Border”s Books & Music in Ann Arbor. “It”s hard to say right now, but there was an increase in the cafe, especially with cold beverages.”

Irene Bushaw, marketing specialist for the Ann Arbor Parks and Recreation Department, said the recent heat wave also increased business at community pools. “The pools did well more than one-third more people than on a typical day. Buhr Park typically has 200-250 swimmers a day. Wednesday it had 350.” Bushaw added that the lack of rainfall decreased the water level to the point that tthe trip from the Argo canoe livery down to the Gallup canoe livery had to be stopped.

“This is an exceptionally dry summer,” Kahlbaum said. “Some areas of the county have received more or less precipitation, but overall we”re abnormally dry.”

He said the heat caught many people unprepared because “last year we never got above 90 or higher.”

People do seem to be listening to advice about drinking water and staying out of the heat, said University Health System spokeswoman Kara Gavin. “We”ve only had a handful of folks (treated for heat-related illness) in the past couple days, and nothing too extreme.”

Kahlbaum had good news and bad news for those weary of the heat.

“The hot spells should become less frequent with the nights becoming longer,” he said, “but you can still have hot spells, even in September.”

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