Pool still popular
People might be avoiding shopping, but they aren’t avoiding the swimming pool.
“It’s been remarkably busy,” said Jimmy Gibbs, aquatics manager for Lawrence Parks and Recreation. Gibbs said both the indoor and outdoor pools have had more swimmers than usual. He added that many people were going to the indoor pool to escape the heat of the outdoor pool.
It’s officially too hot for ice cream.
Jack Garvin, ice cream chef at Cold Stone Creamery, 647 Mass., said the hot weather has kept everyone inside, hurting business at the store.
Last summer, lines stretched to the door, but that isn’t the case this year.
“We haven’t even had a rush today,” he said, gesturing to the nearly empty shop.
The heat wave continues for Lawrence, and as temperatures stay high, sales stay low for many businesses.
The heat — Lawrence has had 21 triple-digit degree days so far this summer — has made many Lawrencians hesitant to leave air-conditioned sanctuaries, making it difficult for places like Cielito Lindo to attract customers. The Mexican restaurant, 815 N.H., relies heavily on its outdoor patio for atmosphere and customer seating, but fewer people want to sit outside when the temperature is almost as hot as the food being served.
“In the past, we usually seat 50 to 60 percent of the patio (18 tables) a night,” manager Santiago Zaragoza said. “Now we are seating maybe 20 percent (five or six tables).”
Zaragoza thinks business will pick up when cool weather and college students return. If it doesn’t, he joked that they could close the doors and go to Mexico where the weather was cooler.
Along with restaurants, garden centers and nurseries have reported drop-offs in business. No one wants to plant trees and plants when they have to fight the hot, dry weather to keep them alive. Home Depot, 1910 W. 31st St., however, reported it had sold out of patio umbrellas.
Even Jeremy Conway, who makes his living fixing air conditioners at Cloud Heating and Air Conditioning, has been done in by the heat.
He said the employees have been working nonstop in July, repairing 20-35 air conditioners a day.
“This is the busiest summer we have had in the last 10 years at least,” he said. “It’s nice to be busy in the summer, but at one point you’re hoping for a break.”
No one is as ready for a break as area farmers. The corn crop is a near total loss. Soybeans are now severely damaged. Farmers have had to sell cattle to avoid water shortages and high hay prices. Gov. Sam Brownback has asked that the entire state be declared a disaster area because of drought.
It has been the same story for the past month, and little relief is in sight. Lawrence experienced a brief cooldown during the week because of scattered showers, but the National Weather Service predicts 106 degrees for the high today, with a slight possibility of showers. The Climate Prediction Center says to expect above-average temperatures for August, September and October as well.