Between round-the-clock hydration, slowing down productivity with frequent breaks and as at least one joked, begging for clouds, contractors who needed to work outdoors during Tuesday’s excessive heat warning subdued the scorching temperatures as best they knew how.
The National Weather Service on Monday issued the excessive heat warning which covered much of the Baton Rouge area Tuesday. Heat indexes topped 113 degrees in some places. The warning followed a heat advisory the day prior, when indexes measured between 107 and 112 degrees, putting south Louisiana on par with surrounding Southern states experiencing a brutal late summer heat wave.
"That humidity is no joke," said Frederick Haywood, owner of Haywood Roofing and Property Management. "We're out doing roofing right now so we're definitely feeling it out in the direct heat. … We beg for clouds, we beg for just one piece of cloud to come over."
Haywood's crew was working Tuesday on a roofing project in Slidell, getting started like usual around daybreak to avoid the worst of the summer heat.
Premier South Roofing has been taking things a little slower than usual and getting started earlier than 6 a.m. when possible. The crews usually take a break in the afternoon then pick back up in the early evening, residential sales manager Lee Hancock said.
The heat advisory for parts of metro Baton Rouge has been upgraded to an excessive heat warning, the National Weather Service said Tuesday morning.
"It's been tough on them," Hancock said. "They cannot achieve nearly as much as they typically do simply because they have to take more than normal breaks to stay hydrated. That heat just zaps them."
He said standing on a roof in such intense heat, working with asphalt shingles and without any cover from the sun can be intense, so a project that usually would take a full day is now taking two.
East Baton Rouge City-Parish public works crews kept ice pops in their freezers and had cases of water stored in their trucks. City spokesman Mark Armstrong said the fire stations even had urine hydration tests in their bathrooms so crews could make sure they were keeping their fluids up enough.
Landscape Baton Rouge LLC is holding daily safety meetings to remind its crews not only to hydrate during work hours but the night before working on a site, and the importance of eating good quality food like fruits and vegetables.
Livingston Parish Public Schools handed out water to students riding buses home Monday amid an intense heat wave that is driving heat indexes …
"You can't expect the same productivity we have when it's 75 degrees outside, so right now we're at about 70 to 80 percent efficiency and that's fine," owner and manager Barron Eskind said. "They work at the same pace as usual but we take two or three mandatory breaks where we sit in the shade."
National Weather Service meteorologist Roberts Ricks, based in Slidell, said the agency planned to let the heat warning expire at 8 p.m. Tuesday without re-issuing it, because a front moving into south Louisiana on Wednesday morning should cool things off — relatively speaking.
Rain on Tuesday evening temporarily tamped down the temps. Ricks said residents should expect rolling storms on Wednesday, so even if temperatures rise in the morning, there should be some respite come afternoon. The National Weather Service forecast site still predicts high temperatures of 92 degrees Wednesday, though, with heat index values as high as 109 degrees.