Your NPR news source
People sit in chairs under trees near Lake Michigan, Chicago

A heat wave is headed for Chicago this week. Experts encourage people to limit their time outside and seek shade and air conditioning.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Season’s first heatwave arrives in Chicago this week

A week of high temperatures arrives as the Chicago Park District opens all 77 public pools for the season. The city is offering six cooling centers.

Temperatures reached a high of 92 degrees Sunday in Chicago, kicking off a weeklong heat wave with temperatures expected to remain in the 90s for most of the week.

La Voz Sidebar

Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago, la sección bilingüe del Sun-Times.
la-voz-cover-photo-2.png

The temperature peaked around Sunday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service. And the heat wave is expected to continue throughout the week with hardly any chance of clouds.

“Temperatures getting below the 90s is not in the cards until maybe next Sunday,” said David King, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville.

Monday and Tuesday will be especially hot as temperatures hit the mid-90s. Making things hotter is the extra humidity headed our way, King said.

“There’s a chance of the temperature feeling close to 100 degrees; that humidity just makes it feel so much hotter,” King said.

Sunday’s heat was enough to drive hundreds of people to North Avenue Beach, where people could cool off in Lake Michigan when the sun’s rays became too hot to handle. Among them was Adrian Smith, 28, who rented a kayak with his girlfriend so they could escape to the water at peak temperatures.

“It’s cooler out on the lake, which is a nice respite from baking in the sun on the beach,” Smith said.

Olivia Shafer, who was working at the Chicago Kayak stand Sunday, told the Sun-Times that her trips to the lake to help customers get out on the water were getting her through the day.

“Luckily we’re working from a shaded hut, but it’s still hot,” Shafer said. “Getting to take a dip in the water every once in a while when people rent our kayaks or paddle boards is helping too.”

Shafer said business started slow but boomed around 2 p.m. when temperatures were at their highest. Within two hours, Shafer helped eight groups of kayakers and more than 25 paddle boarders out onto the water, she said.

Others cooled down with ice cream, water and stronger beverages, like the fresh piña coladas served by vendor El Campeón Piña Colada, where manager Herman Lopez spent the bulk of his day chopping fresh pineapple to keep up with the demand.

“We’ve had long lines throughout the day, but being busy is what’s keeping the time passing in this heat,” Lopez said. “I don’t remember the last time we’ve been this busy here.”

The high temperatures are part of the effects of a “heat dome” forecast along the Atlantic Seaboard, a weather phenomenon that occurs when high pressure traps heat over an area, King said. But Chicago won’t see the worst of the heat dome, which is expectedly to mainly affect parts of Ohio and the Detroit area, according to the weather service.

King said he doesn’t expect the weather service to issue any heat warnings for the Chicago area this week; alerts are issued when temperatures exceed 105 degrees.

But people should be careful when they’re outside, as the heat can take a toll, King said. He encourages people to take breaks in the shade or inside, always bring water and sunscreen, and generally limit outside activities. The elderly and babies are especially sensitive to high temperatures, he added.

“Just because we don’t have a heat advisory out doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take precautions,” King said.

The weather service issued an air quality alert that ends Monday evening. Anyone dealing with respiratory diseases should limit their time outside.

The city will also open six cooling centers this week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. The centers are located at:

  • Englewood Center – 1140 W. 79th St.
  • Garfield Center – 10 S. Kedzie Ave.
  • King Center – 4314 S. Cottage Grove
  • North Area Center – 845 W. Wilson Ave.
  • South Chicago Center – 8650 S. Commercial Ave.
  • Trina Davila Center – 4312 W. North Ave.
Screenshot 2024-06-16 at 11.48.17 AM.png

An infographic from the National Weather Service and the CDC explains the symptoms and risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

National Weather Service

All pools open for the season

The city’s 50 outdoor pools and 27 indoor pools will open for the season on Monday, the Chicago Park District announced Sunday.

The park district says it has hired enough lifeguards to staff all of the city’s pools. Staffing troubles had prevented the district from opening every pool in recent summers — only half of the pools were open in 2022.

The pools will be open six days a week from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Schedules for each of the pools can be found here.

“We worked hard to strengthen our lifeguard pipeline and to yield sufficient candidates to open all beaches and pools, and it has paid off,” Rosa Escareño, park district chief executive and superintendent, said in a statement.

“Due to our extensive hiring efforts, Chicago residents and families will enjoy their summer and cool off in our beaches and pools.”

One of those efforts was the Lifeguard Explorer Training Program, which recruited from pools on the South and West sides. Participants received swim lessons to prep for the lifeguard license swim test and learned the basics of lifeguarding.

The pay for lifeguards was raised this year from $16.19 an hour to $19 an hour, the park district said. Lifeguard swim tests were also offered earlier in the year and during evenings and weekends.

After four years of sitting empty, the Humboldt Park Beach also opens Monday. All of the city’s 22 beaches opened on May 24. Beaches and pools close for the season after Labor Day on Sept. 2.

Heat in Chicago
Chicago has laws for landlords to keep all apartments warm during the winter but does not have a similar blanket rule to keep them cool during the summer.
One day in July, there was a more than 20 degree difference between Rogers Park and Archer Heights. Why the Southwest Side is so hot will be explored by the city.
Drifting smoke from fires across North America are still expected to cause air pollution in Chicago, but experts say it’s likely to be milder than what caused last year’s thick haze and dangerous air quality.
It’s hotter than ever these days. Here are the risks and signs of overheating, and how older residents are staying safe.

The Latest
Nearly 35,000 ComEd customers are still without power Wednesday evening and Interstate 55 remains closed in both directions near Channahon. A high-wind advisory is in effect for Wednesday evening.
The National Weather Service confirmed that 11 tornadoes touched down Monday night and six on Sunday. Interstate 55 remains closed in both directions near Channahon after power lines fell on the highway.
Forecasters say ‘torrential rains’ are likely. Chicago is under a flood watch. The storm could drop 2 to 3 inches of rain and bring winds in excess of 58 mph. Another storm system could move through the region Monday evening.
On the fourth day of the heat wave last week, city officials closed cooling centers and libraries where those without air conditioning had sought relief.
A critic calls City Hall’s decision “extremely alarming” as temperatures are expected to exceed 90 degrees again.