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Sweltering Heat May Break 78-Year-Old Record

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A fan in the window at Burr School, 1621 W. Wabansia Ave. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Record-setting temperatures could be coming Wednesday, the second day of sweltering heat and humidity in Chicago.

But relief is on the way, as a cold front and a storm system breeze in Wednesday evening, and temperatures drop nearly 30 degrees.

On Wednesday, the forecast high is 98 degrees, with a heat index of 99 to 104 degrees expected. Already at 6:45 a.m., the temperature hovered at 79 degrees in Waukegan, and 81 in Gary.

The record for the date is 97 degrees, back during the Great Depression in 1933.

WBBM Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports the high temperature of 96 degrees Tuesday was just three degrees short of the record for that date, also set in 1933.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Lisa Fielding reports

As on Tuesday, conditions will be humid and hazy, CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros reports. Dewpoints, a measurement of humidity, are expected to hover in the middle to upper 60s.

And once again, the wind is from the southwest, so the lake will not provide any relief.

People are recommended to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun, look for air-conditioned rooms, and check on relatives and neighbors.

Especially during hot weather, temperatures inside cars can reach levels in a period of a few minutes. Children and pets should never be left alone in hot car under any circumstances.

The heat has already made life miserable for many Chicagoans. CBS 2’s Mike Parker reported on Tuesday, firefighters had to go out for a raging 2-11 alarm fire in the 1100 block of North Mason Avenue in the Austin neighborhood.

There were worries that heat exhaustion might be a problem so dozens of backup firefighters were sent to the scene. Although it took an hour to knock the fire down, nobody collapsed from the heat. One firefighter suffered a shoulder injury.

Nobody was seriously endangered either at Bucktown’s Burr School, 1621 W. Wabansia Ave., but on Tuesday it was like scores of other CPS schools across the city. The staff struggled to keep students cool with nothing more than window air conditioners in a few rooms and lots of open windows elsewhere.

Melanie Vizcarra is one of the students. She said, “Everybody’s so hot they can’t keep up with their work.”

CPS has sent out a Heat Emergency Action plan to principals. Among the orders, see to it that students and adults are kept well hydrated. Make sure water fountains work. Move classes to the coolest rooms if possible and keep air circulating by opening windows where practical.

Melanie’s mother does not think schools should be closed in the heat. “Education is more important,” she says. “I just wish that CPS would give us some air conditioners.”

After the storms come in Wednesday night, conditions will quickly grow far more comfortable. The forecast high for Thursday is only 71 degrees.

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