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The heat is on

record heat in Albuquerque
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This sign near Sixth Street and Tijeras gives a digital reading of Thursday’s high temperature, which at 3:01 p.m. was 105 degrees and caused a record-setting demand for electricity. The highest temperature ever recorded in the state of New Mexico — 122 degrees — was on June 27, 1994, southeast of Carlsbad. (Roberto E. Rosales/journal)

This sign near Sixth Street and Tijeras gives a digital reading of Thursday’s high temperature, which at 3:01 p.m. was 105 degrees and caused a record-setting demand for electricity. The highest temperature ever recorded in the state of New Mexico — 122 degrees — was on June 27, 1994, southeast of Carlsbad. (Roberto E. Rosales/journal)

It reached 105 degrees at 3:01 p.m. in Albuquerque on Thursday, tying for the second hottest temperature ever recorded in the Duke City.

Demand for electricity broke a record, according to the Public Service of New Mexico, as residents stayed indoors and cranked up the AC.

Letter carrier Gary Shibata, who was taking a break from handing out mail in Old Town, wasn’t so lucky. But he has his own way of dealing with the heat.

“I keep a big jug of water,” he said, pointing out a red Igloo in the back of his mail truck, “and every hour, my secret is, I go like this.” He grabbed the jug, raised and upended it over his head. “I just open it up and douse myself. It keeps you cool for a half an hour, 45 minutes.”

The last time the temperature reached 105 degrees at the Sunport was 19 years ago, almost to the day – on June 25, 1994 – and the hottest day ever in Albuquerque came just one day later, on June 26, when the temperature reached 107 degrees, according to Brian Guyer, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

At 4:17 p.m. on Thursday, the mercury hit 102 degrees at Santa Fe County Municipal Airport, making it the hottest day in Santa Fe since 1941, he said.

Thursday also saw record-high electricity consumption, according to PNM, with demand going up to 1,975 megawatts. That topped a 2010 record of 1,973 megawatts, according to a spokeswoman.

But there should be some relief in sight. Today, temperatures will be at 100 or 101 degrees with a 10 percent chance of precipitation. On Saturday, the mercury will rise to a milder 98 degrees with a 10 percent chance of rain and, on Sunday, high temperatures will be 94 degrees with a 30 percent chance of rain after 5 p.m., according to forecaster Mark Fettig of the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, Shibata, who has been fighting high summer temperatures with his jug of water and a metal fan in his un-airconditioned truck for 29 years, was hardly alone in taking umbrage at the heat.

The heavily trafficked tourist area off Central near Old Town and Tingley Beach was nearly deserted during the heat’s hour of power, which reigned until the heat declined to a no-less-sweltering 102 degrees at 4:51 p.m.

Marissa Manion, a saleswoman at Arturo’s American Artisans Gallery in Old Town, said shortly after 3 p.m. that no one had been in for an hour.

“I think every day it slows down around this time, because it’s the hottest time, but today it’s exceptionally hot,” she said.

Across the street, Frances Perez, saleswoman at Arturo’s Indian Jewelry, had a recipe for keeping cool, even though the heat was making her admittedly “a little irritated.”

“Stay indoors, with three fans and one air-conditioner.”

The normally vibrant Tingley Beach was empty at 3:19 p.m., except for some yellow-billed ducks who, standing under a log for shade or crossing the street in hot-headed delirium, looked like they wondered why they hadn’t come up with a better plan to ward off the sun’s rays.

Flowers near the intersection of South Plaza and Rio Grande Boulevard had wilted, too, toppling their blossoms in dry wrinkly heaps over the edges of their clay pots.

Tourists were no less wilted. A winded looking Rita Edwards, visiting from San Ramon, Calif., said her plan was to cool off in a museum. She was visiting for five days with her husband for the first time and she said she wasn’t expecting it to be so hot.

Likewise for a family from another state known for its triple-digit temperatures.

“We’re used to really high temperatures in Phoenix, but we didn’t think it got this hot,” said Dawn Fritz-Curley, who was cooling off in a Baskin-Robbins on Rio Grande with two children, 3 and 10, eating sherbert and ice cream cones around 3:30 p.m.

The were scheduled to leave Albuquerque today.

“If it’s not too hot to melt the tires.”

Paul Johnson bikes toward Downtown along Central Avenue and 98th Street. He improvised a device on his bike in which he attached a sprinkler to a water tank mounted in the back to spray mist on him to stay cool. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

Paul Johnson bikes toward Downtown along Central Avenue and 98th Street. He improvised a device on his bike in which he attached a sprinkler to a water tank mounted in the back to spray mist on him to stay cool. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

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