Record hot summer takes its toll

Aug. 27, 2011 at 3:27 a.m.

Basilio Castanon, 57, loads steel bars in the afternoon heat at Dierlam Feed Store on Friday, the day that marked the 43rd day of at least 100 degree heat in Victoria. The mercury level also carved out a record 25 consecutive days for the heat wave.

Basilio Castanon, 57, loads steel bars in the afternoon heat at Dierlam Feed Store on Friday, the day that marked the 43rd day of at least 100 degree heat in Victoria. The mercury level also carved out a record 25 consecutive days for the heat wave.

Clint Caviel hoisted the bag of feed onto his shoulder and marched out of the warehouse to a customer's waiting pickup.

Plopping the bag down, he wipes the sweat from his brow, a scenario he repeats dozens of times during the course of his work day.

Caviel, 45, has been loading customers' trucks with bags of feed at Dierlam Feed Store for 14 years. This year's record temperatures have turned the heat up on an already scorching job.

"It gets a little hot in the afternoon when we're loading trucks and taking care of customers," he admitted. "It's really hot inside the box trailers. Inside the warehouse is hot, too.

"I just try to stay cool. Take breaks and drink plenty of water."

Owner David Dierlam said he recognizes the effect the heat has on his workers.

"We try to get as much done early in the mornings and later in the evenings as possible," Dierlam said. "We try to avoid as much heat during the day as possible, but sometimes it doesn't always work out that way. We get deliveries in the middle of the day and have to go.

"We stay hydrated, make sure they drink plenty of water. We're not pushing anybody to do anything extra. It's just tough on everybody."


The heat has also been tough on golfers at the Victoria Invista/kci tournament.

Two players left in ambulances because of heat exhaustion during the first round of the tournament, and several more withdrew because of the high temperatures on Thursday.

"We had four or five withdraw because of the heat," said Joe Mitchell Jr., the assistant golf pro at Victoria Country Club and a competitor in the tournament. "A guy in my group Thursday dropped out because of it."

The blistering weather forced tournament officials and course managers to action. Competitors rolled around the course in golf carts, a rarity in professional events, for Friday and Saturday's final rounds.

Blake L. Trimble, the winner of the tournament and a San Diego native, said the heat didn't affect him on the course too much.

The 24-year-old, who is in his first full year as a professional, has experience with not letting heat bother him on the course, and this is far from the worst he's seen.

"I was playing a Hooters tour event in Auburn and the heat index was 120," he said. "My right calf cramps up in heat like this, because we don't get it like this in San Diego. The only thing that stinks is that it keeps the grips of my clubs wet, and my left palm sweats a lot, so I was constantly changing gloves."

This week's event was a good primer for the future for Trimble, who said he's planning on moving to Dallas to better accommodate a golf career.

"I'm going to have to get used to it, anyway," he added.

Shay Iacoponelli, formerly of upstate New York, still hasn't got used to the Texas heat. Her family moved to the Lone Star state in the 1980s. She said she stays inside as much as possible.

"I really don't like the heat," she said. But the Cuero resident admitted to complaining in summers past. "I say it's the worst summer every year."

Iacoponelli said she just thinks about the cooler weather in October.


Saturday marked the 44th day of 100 degrees or higher in Victoria for the year.

Friday's 43rd day of 100-degree temperatures broke the record of 42 set in 1912.

Of those 43 days, 25 of them came consecutively from July 31 through Aug. 24. Of those 25 days, six were record highs for that date. Since April, 12 days have set records for highs on that date.

The National Weather Service is forecasting Sunday's temperature at 109, which if attained, would tie for fifth place on the all-time high temperature list in Victoria. The record high for Aug. 28 is 103 set in 1912.


In the DeTar Healthcare System emergency room, almost twice as many patients, a total of 27, came in with heat-related problems from July 1 to this week compared with 14 in 2010.

"We encourage area residents to drink plenty of water, wear light clothing and stay inside air conditioned or at least the coolest area available as much as possible during the warmest part of the day," said Judith Barefield, DeTar spokeswoman. "If symptoms like nausea, extreme sweating, dizziness or cool, pale skin develop, seek immediate relief from the heat and drink water. If symptoms persist or worsen, call 9-1-1 and seek immediate medical attention."

At Citizens Medical Center, ER visits for heat-related symptoms have remained about normal for this time of year and most of those are heat cramps, said spokeswoman Shannon Spree.

Dr. Clyde Walrod said the increase in awareness of the dangerous heat levels and of the signs of heat-related illness is keeping the numbers down.

Other medical professionals agree.

"Because it is so hot, people are aware of the heat and that makes a difference. It's when the temps are between 90 and 100 that people can run into trouble. Right now, it's so hot, no one's ignoring it," said Steve Toland, a registered nurse in the Citizens Medical Center emergency department.


Despite Thursday's rain, Victoria has recorded less than an inch of measurable rain in a month - the .45 inches Thursday and .43 inches on July 27.

Although nowhere near a record - Victoria went almost two months without rain in 1980 and in August 1902 no rainfall was recorded at all - the continuing drought adds to the problems presented by the heat.

Dierlam said his customers are keeping a closer eye on their cattle.

"The biggest problem with the livestock is the water," Dierlam said. "I know people who have put off vacations because they have to check their cattle. Due to the drought and the extreme heat, they have to check them every day."

If there is an upside to the heat and drought, it's been on the business-side of things for Dierlam.

"The drought, short-term, has increased business. People are having to feed their livestock a lot more than usual due to the dry conditions," he said. "August is usually our slowest month and this year it's turned out to be as busy as the winter months."

Advocate sports editor John Hornberg and reporter Camille Doty contributed to this story.



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