Heatwave forces changes, temporary closures at Raleigh parks

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The heatwave impacting the region forced some changes at Raleigh’s parks Wednesday as families tried to enjoy the sunny weather while staying safe.

“We brought a ton of water. I have this fan right here,” said Kimber Howard, who attached a fan to her stroller to try to cool off her son and daughter. “I usually try to do a ton of sunscreen and then 30 minutes at a time and take breaks.”

Early Wednesday afternoon, staff members at Pullen Park asked people on paddle boats to return them to the dock because the heat index had exceeded 105 degrees.

So, we have to close up shop. We have to bring everything back in. In about an hour when we check it again, if it’s still high we have to remain closed,” said Elijah Perscell. “Even if we do close, people still love to come down. And, we give them a refund. And, then when we open, they come back.”

City spokesperson Julia Milstead said maintenance crews also head inside once the heat index reaches 105 degrees. The crews also have shifted their schedules, beginning at 6 a.m. as opposed to 7 a.m.

A group of campers from Peace Church in Wilson came to Pullen Park Wednesday early in the day. They planned to go to an ice skating rink as the temperatures climbed in the afternoon.

While hot summer days are nothing new to central North Carolina, a recent report by government climate scientists warned about potential impacts in the years ahead.

The Fourth National Climate Assessment, released last November, calls attention to how Raleigh is experiencing “more and longer summer heatwaves.”

“Nationally, there are only five large cities that have increasing trends exceeding the national average for all aspects of heat waves (timing, frequency, intensity, and duration),” the report reads, naming Raleigh as one of those five cities. “Southeastern cities including Memphis and Raleigh have a particularly high future heat risk.”

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