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THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2006
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Valley weather to be dry, cooler this weekend

By Bayne Hughes
DAILY Staff Writer

hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

After a start to July in which area temperatures spiked as high as 98 degrees, National Weather Service meteorologist Kurt Weber says temperatures should fall into the upper to mid-80s today and through the weekend.

That would be a welcome relief, as area hospitals and ambulance services reported an increase in heat-related cases.

Spokeswoman Tina Weeks said Parkway Medical Center had 25 patients suffering from heat-related issues of varying degrees during the period of June 3 through July 4.

Spokeswoman Stacy Perry said staff estimates show Decatur General Hospital had five heat-related cases in the past two weeks.

Don Webster of Huntsville Emergency Medical Systems Inc., which covers Madison County and parts of Limestone and Morgan counties, said his ambulance service has answered 14 heat-related calls since Friday. He attributed many of the cases to the extended holiday weekend.

"Many of these people are used to working inside, and they took the opportunity to work in their yards or get outside, but they weren't used to the heat," Webster said.

Webster said his service also had some alcohol-related heat cases. Despite some advertising promotions, alcohol dehydrates the body instead of refreshing it.

"Alcoholic beverages are a big no-no," he said.

Also, Valley residents will have to be satisfied with the rain they did or didn't get Wednesday.

Meteorologist Kurt Weber of the National Weather Service said most of North Alabama will return to the dry weather that's been the norm this summer, although we might get a little relief from the intense heat of the past week.

Weber said Cullman County and areas in North Central Alabama could get a few lingering showers this morning, but the precipitation is probably finished for the Huntsville-Decatur area.

The Tennessee Valley remains stuck in a drought pattern with no end in sight. Through Wednesday, the Huntsville-Decatur area is 11.04 inches below normal for the year. The normal is 31.7.

"I wish I could say there's a strong signal from an El Nino or La Nina, but I wouldn't bank on seeing a lot of rain in the next few months," Weber said.

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