With heat wave in high gear, counties point residents toward air conditioning

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The three day heat wave Minnesotans have been warned about is here and Thursday looks like the hottest part of it.

Forecasters say the heat index – which combines the temperature and humidity to tell you what it really feels like – will be in triple digits for most of the state and will probably surpass 110 in some places.

On this map of southeastern Minnesota's Thursday outlook, red means hot. It looks pretty red.

An excessive heat warning from the National Weather Service runs through 10 p.m. Thursday and includes the Twin Cities. They say dangerously hot temperatures make the risk of heat illness high.

Here are tips for managing the hot weather, but the biggest ones are to drink water and stay in air conditioning as much as possible.

What if your home is not air conditioned?

When it gets this hot, public spaces that are air conditioned become more important. In some areas local governments are helping residents locate such spaces, some of which are extending their hours during the heat wave.

In the Twin Cities both Hennepin and Ramsey Counties have interactive maps to help you find air conditioned places near you.

In St. Paul a number of recreation centers and libraries are extending their hours until 10 p.m.

The Salvation Army has opened a handful of cooling centers around the metro area, too.

Parade goes on, races off

In Minneapolis Wednesday evening's Aquatennial's Torchlight Parade went on, although organizers added some extra watering stations along the route.


At Canterbury Park, however, Thursday evening's horse races have been canceled. The race track's president, Randy Sampson, said in a statement the chief state veterinarian was consulted.

With the forecast calling for a heat index over 110, track officials decided to call off the races for the health of the horses and jockeys. A make-up date will be added to Canterbury's schedule on Sep. 1.

Hot, humid weather also prevents ozone from floating up into the atmosphere and keeps it down here where we're busy breathing. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has an air pollution health advisory for the Twin Cities and some of east central Minnesota from 11 a.m. to 9 a.m. (See map at right)

How long will this last?

Minnesotans have plenty of company as we endure this heat wave. This Weather Service map shows the warning area for Thursday.

Forecasters expect Friday to be a little less humid and the weekend should feel much better. MPR's Updraft blog says Thursday's "blast furnace heat and abundant humidity" will give way to near normal temperatures by Sunday.

AccuWeather's map of the weekend outlook shows that hot red stuff moving well south of Minnesota.

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As heat wave lingers, so does bad air quality

Friday looks like another of those muggy days that keep air pollution trapped near the ground. The Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality advisory for the Twin Cities and Rochester from noon to midnight. Conditions got bad enough on Wednesday that the agency upgraded its advisory to a health alert.

Heat wave raises risk of West Nile Virus

Health officials want to be generous with the bug spray during the heat wave that's settling over Minnesota. Late summer heat creates ideal conditions for the mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus. In the Twin Cities, the mosquito control district is chemically treating 77,000 storm drains.