07/01/12 — Mercury soars as Wayne County tries to keep cool

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Mercury soars as Wayne County tries to keep cool

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 1, 2012 1:50 AM

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Dylan Gooding, 9, tries to beat the heat at the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park Saturday.

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Cambria, 1, has a bucket of water poured on her head as she fills a plastic flower pot from a wading pool Saturday afternoon where she and her parents, Alec and Kasey Swartz, kept cool in their backyard.

Cars on North Berkeley Boulevard whizz past the News-Argus marquee Saturday afternoon where the electronic screen showed the temperature topping out at a scorching 108 degrees.

An unlucky traveler pushes his car along Cashwell Drive. He's dripping in sweat when he finally gets it within reach of the gas pump.

Cars file in and out of the parking lot where a hot pink hut bakes in the sun, shielding Beth Thigpen and Kelsey Kornegay inside as they prepare cups of Hawaiian shaved ice.

A pick-up truck pulls up and two young men hop out, leaving the engine (and the air conditioning) running.

They order and hustle back to the truck in a manner almost reminiscent of Bo and Luke Duke -- it's a day so hot you don't even want to wait outside for scoops of ice drenched in syrup.

"It's too hot," Brandon Smith said from the relative coolness of the passenger seat of the truck, Jeremy Lancaster sitting behind the steering wheel with the A/C on full blast.

Smith said he usually visits the shaved ice hut daily, but on this hot day, he's especially glad to be away from the construction work he's usually doing -- and he's not alone.

Ms. Thigpen said she's had about twice as many customers as usual during the heat wave. The shop usually hands out about 150 frozen treats a day, but sold 275 Friday night, she said, with numbers expected to be even higher during the weekend.

Across town, the Swartz family found another way to stay cool, gathered around a wading pool with neighbors Abi and Adyline Monahan.

As their parents watch, 20-month-old Adyline toddles around with Cambria, who is three months shy of her second birthday.

Cambria's parents, Kasey and Alec Swartz, bought the bright pink pool earlier in the summer in anticipation of the hot temperatures, and while it's a hit, along with plastic flower pots the toddlers fill with water, the true winner is a five-dollar bubble gun that showers the two with dozens of bubbles.

"Bubbles!" Adyline shrieks as her mother blows bubbles around her.

Cambria leans out of the pool to poke the bubbles that have gathered on the cement. Her parents are from Michigan and Adyline's mother is originally from Wisconsin, so they're not used to this kind of heat.

But as the sun dips down low behind their house, the pool in the shade offers some relief from heat indices expected to be in the 110s.

Record temperatures were set all over the state, from Asheville's 98 degrees to Wilmington's 104, with Fayetteville setting a daily record at 102. Set up in the Appalachians, Grandfather Mountain's high was a bit milder, but was still a record for the Mile High Swinging bridge at 84, eclipsing the 83-degree mark set in August 1983.

The National Weather Service doesn't maintain records for Goldsboro, the unofficial hot spot of Eastern North Carolina, but the countless scenes across the city -- yard sales where sellers watched from inside, long lines at ice machines and empty basketball courts -- probably serve as record enough. It was a hot one. On Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the temperature registered 100 degrees.

Temperatures today are expected to be a few degrees cooler, but an excessive heat warning is in effect until 11 p.m. tonight, with an excessive heat watch in effect all day Monday.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.