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July 16, 2013

Grand Traverse region feels the heat

TRAVERSE CITY — High temperatures are a relative concept during summer’s dog days.

Just ask James Breithaupt. The Traverse City native moved to Qatar -— as in Middle East Qatar — about six months ago and was back in town to visit family during this week’s heat wave.

“This ain’t hot,” Breithaupt said as he sat in a lawn chair on West End Beach. “It was 126 degrees when I left last Thursday. I’m not even sweating.”

James’ brother John Breithaupt disagreed from his own bayside lawn chair.

“If I’m not here, I’m sitting in my air conditioning,” he said. “I can’t stand it.”

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory on Tuesday that extends through this evening for areas around and south of the M-72 corridor, including the Grand Traverse area. Forecasters predicted heat indices could reach 100 degrees in some places.

“The humidity will slowly increase so the heat index — what it feels like — will be up into the mid- to upper-90s,” said Justin Arnott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord.

Meteorologists cautioned people to limit strenuous activity outdoors during the heat advisory, but that’s not an option for folks like U.S. Postal Service letter carrier Eric Homminga.

Homminga walks about five miles a day while delivering mail in downtown Traverse City and surrounding neighborhoods.

He prefers delivering in the dead of winter compared to summer scorchers.

“I can always add clothes,” he said. “You can’t take skin off.”

Tuesday’s heat was far from the worst Homminga has seen since he started delivering mail in Traverse City in 2006, but he took extra precautions by drinking plenty of water and resting often in shady places.

Other Traverse City residents embraced the 90-plus temperatures at West End Beach.

“It’s perfect,” said Allison Locke, who visited the beach with her friend Alicia Igo. “The water feels really good when it gets this hot.”

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