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Scorching Heat in Phoenix Cracks Windshields


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PHOENIX — It's so hot windshields are shattering or falling out, dogs are burning their paws on the pavement, and candles are melting indoors.

People who live in the Valley of the Sun don't usually sweat the summer heat. But this July is off the charts.

With the average high for the first three weeks of the month at 110 degrees, Phoenix (search) is on track to have the hottest July since the National Weather Service (search) started keeping records in 1896. The average July high is 104.

"Being in this heat is like walking through the hot lamps they use to bake on a car's paint," said Roger Janusz, who was walking laps inside a mall instead of outdoors Thursday morning.

The low temperature on July 15 was 96 degrees, a record for the date. The high on July 16 was 117, making it the hottest day so far this year.

It's so hot that heat waves are creating turbulence for airplanes overhead, said Sky Harbor International Airport (search) spokeswoman Deborah Ostreicher.

The searing pavement is burning the pads on dogs' feet and causing the animals to suffer heat stroke. Susan Prosse, hospital manager at University Animal Hospital, said when the pavement burns dogs' pads, they start dancing around. Some pet owners put booties on their dogs for their protection.

Floral designer Brenda Zamora said her bouquets are dying in the delivery trucks en route to their destinations. "This heat is not good for people, pets, flowers — anything," she said.

It is especially hard on the sick and elderly.

Dr. Donald Lauer of Phoenix has seen an increase in people with heat-related ailments this July. He said recently that when the air conditioning broke in an elderly woman's motor home, she suffered heat stroke, passed out and swerved off the road. She was not seriously hurt.

"Very few points of the human body are designed to function at 107 and 108," Lauer said.

Cars don't handle the heat well, either.

Terry Tapp, owner of an upholstery repair shop, said some windshields shatter when the heat causes them to expand. Others fall out when the glue holding them in place separates. The heat is also cracking and peeling dashboards.

"But the funniest thing you see with this heat is that you get the grumpiest people who come in that you have ever seen," Tapp said. "They have no tolerance for anything."

Leslie Wanek, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the above-normal temperatures are due to a strong high-pressure system over the western United States, a late start to the usual summer rains and the heat-retaining effects of asphalt and concrete in this fast-growing metropolis of about 3 million.

Many people who are not boating or swimming are just staying indoors.

Josh Acton has no air conditioning, but he finally bought four fans after it got so hot in his house that candles melted.

About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed-wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing boxers were either curled up on their bunk beds or chatted in the tents, which reached 138 degrees inside the week before. Many were also swathed in wet, pink towels as sweat collected on their chests and dripped down to their pink socks.

"It feels like you are in a furnace," said James Zanzo't, an inmate who has lived in the tents for 1 1/2 years. "It's inhumane."

Joe Arpaio, the tough-guy sheriff who created the tent city and long ago started making his prisoners wear pink, is not sympathetic. He said Wednesday that he told the inmates: "It's 120 degrees in Iraq and the soldiers are living in tents and they didn't commit any crimes, so shut your mouths."

Sherman Reeves, a postal worker, set up a misting system — similar to the ones in the produce sections of grocery stores — in his delivery truck, which he said heats up like an oven. "You can feel yourself baking," he said.

John Augustyn switches the temperature reading on his office computer to Celsius. "It's all a matter of being able to adjust your mind," he said.

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