By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — For the first time in 60 years, temperature records in the Clinton area have been broken two days in a row in the month of September, disrupting classes and activities for some Clinton students.
Spiking nearly 20 degrees higher than average, the area's 98-degree high Monday broke the 97-degree record set in 1912 and 1933. Tuesday temperatures also reached sweltering levels, hitting 97 degrees and breaking the 96- degree record set in 1931.
The last time temperature records were broken on two consecutive days in September was on Sept. 28 and 29, 1953 when temperatures reached 92 and 96, respectively.
Not only is breaking records two days in a row unusual, but the height that temperatures reached also is remarkable, official weather observer Jim Blaess said. The last time the temperature hit 98 in September was on Sept. 7, 1985.
"It's not that often we get temperatures that high, let alone set a record," Blaess said.
Washington and Lyons middle schools have been dismissed early six times this year due to the heat, an unheard of number, according to Superintendent Deb Olson.
"This has been a really unusual year," Olson said. "Obviously we want kids in school, but the good thing about letting kids out early is that it helps them focus in the morning because they know there is some relief coming."
While the district's other schools are mostly air conditioned, the middle schools are not, causing Olson to let those students escape their hot schools by 1 p.m.
It's not an exact science, but Olson considers the temperature as well as how hot the buildings might be because of the previous day's heat before choosing an early dismissal and letting parents and others know.
"It's really about the student safety aspect," Olson said. "Parents give us their children to keep them safe. So when we make the decision, students' safety is number one."
Heat won't be an issue in the new middle school, which will be equipped with a geothermal heating and cooling system.
Keeping students safe from the heat doesn't stop being a concern once the final bell rings. Student athletes also have had to work their schedules around the sun and humidity.
"We're certainly aware of the heat and trying to make adjustments," Clinton Activities Director Gary Lueders said.
The heat has directly impacted two high school cross country meets as well as middle school football and volleyball games that had to be postponed and rescheduled.
While most athletic practices go on as planned at the high school level, coaches and players adjust their routines for the heat including altering what they wear, how frequently water breaks happen as well as what time and at what location practice is held.
Gym class activities also get bumped to air-conditioned areas if possible.
"The officials and coaches monitor that the students are hydrated and we're lucky to have a certified athletic trainer watching closely for any heat-related illness," Lueders said.