Relief by Sunday?

    Weather experts are saying Decatur-area residents could be getting some relief from the oppressive heat by Sunday — if highs in the upper 80s are relief. The way it's been going of late, that could be a dip of 10 to 15 degrees!
    The temperature topped out at 99 degrees at the city weather station on Thursday, the ninth consecutive day when the high hit 89 or more. And the National Weather Service is saying highs could be in the triple digits today and Saturday.
    At least Decatur got some slight relief from the drought conditions. The edge of a storm dropped .27 on the city in early evening. That only wetted things down for a short time, but this summer, that's better than the norm.
    The storm, though, only made things worse in Fort Wayne. Indiana Michigan Power spokesman David Mayne says crews had brought the outage total down to about 4,000 from late Friday's storm, but the Thursday storm knocked out electricity to as many as 10,000 more homes and businesses.
    Mayne says that about 8,000 total outages remained Friday morning and that the utility company didn’t have an estimate on when repairs would be completed.
    The company had about 118,000 outages in northern Indiana at one point after the June 29 storm that hit Fort Wayne with winds up to 90 mph and downed hundreds of trees.
    "As of 6 a.m. Friday, I&M estimates that an overall total of 7,900 customers  are awaiting restoration of electric service," Mayne said in an update this morning.
    The storm blew the roof from an apartment building in Merrillville as wood beams and roofing material was scattered around the parking area. The Post-Tribune reports 48 units in two buildings were evacuated after winds estimated at least 75 mph.
    Resident April Norwood said the whole building shook and an air conditioning unit almost fell on her daughter as the storm approached.
    Merrillville fire marshal Phil Topor said the second building was evacuated as safety precaution.
    Forecasters said the Decatur-area could see a high of 103 today, with heat index values as high as 112. More of the same is seen for Saturday: a high of 104 and a heat index of 110.
    A high of 87 is predicted for this area Sunday, followed by highs around the 84-degree mark on Monday and Tuesday.

Air quality worsens
    Indiana’s environmental agency says sweltering temperatures are cooking up smoggy air that poses a health threat to the elderly, children and people with heart or lung ailments.
    The state Department of Environmental Management says elevated levels of ground-level ozone are forecast at least through Friday.
    Ozone forms when sunlight and hot weather like Indiana’s current 100-degree readings bake vehicle exhaust, factory emissions and gasoline vapors, causing eye and throat irritation, asthma attacks and other problems.
    State officials are urging the elderly, children and people with heart or lung conditions to reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors.
    Friday’s worst air quality will be in five southern Indiana counties just north of Louisville, Ky., where ozone readings could reach unhealthy levels. Those counties are Clark, Floyd, Harrison, Scott and Washington.