The heat's here, and staying well past bedtime across Tampa Bay area

Benito Santiago, a foreman with Old Time Roofing, tries to keep himself hydrated Wednesday afternoon in St. Petersburg.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Benito Santiago, a foreman with Old Time Roofing, tries to keep himself hydrated Wednesday afternoon in St. Petersburg.

As the Tampa Bay area melted through heat records, a frozen yogurt shop saw an influx of customers, an animal shelter put out a call for donations of electric fans, and people found relief even in air-conditioned bloodmobiles.

The low temperature Wednesday dropped only to 83 degrees, making it the highest overnight temperature for June 15 in 121 years of record keeping.

"If you thought it was really warm and humid this morning," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez, "you were right."

The previous record at Tampa International Airport was 81, set in 1998. St. Petersburg tied a record of 81 degrees, also set in 1998.

And it doesn't end there. The mercury hit 95 at the airport, tying the record set in 2001. Daytime temperatures should hover in the 90s for much of the Tampa Bay area this week.

The warm weather is good news for restaurants like Vivo Yogurt Bar in Tampa, which logged its highest sales in weeks Wednesday.

Despite the cost of air conditioning, the store's manager says the heat is great for business.

"The hotter it is, the more yogurt we sell," said manager Zach Ware.

Meanwhile, Nitally's Thai-Mex Cuisine in St. Petersburg closed after the air conditioner failed.

There was plenty of cool air inside the Florida Blood Services' bloodmobile parked in downtown Tampa.

The organization's 35 buses each carry at least three air conditioning units — not to keep the blood cool, but to keep donors calm, according to Dan Eberts, a spokesman for the organization.

The hot weather isn't just a concern for humans. It also poses a deadly threat to animals.

"The biggest problem that you see is people who completely underestimate the heat," said Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Animal Services.

Calls about animals left in cars increase during the summer months, she said. It's a dangerous practice anytime in Florida.

"It's a frying death," Ryan said. "It's unacceptable."

The Pinellas Humane Society put out a call on its Facebook page Tuesday for donations of pedestal or box fans, extension cords and even kiddie pools for dogs. Call (727) 797-7722 to help.

Staff writer Anne Glover contributed to this report. Eric P. Newcomer can be reached at (813) 226-3401 or enewcomer@sptimes.com.

The heat's here, and staying well past bedtime across Tampa Bay area 06/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:09am]

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