Motor City heat: Scorching temperatures bring air-quality warnings

With mid-summer temperatures in the upper 80s, people escape the heat while splashing in the Detroit River at the beach on Belle Isle.

In Greektown, restaurant patrons fled the outdoor tables for the ones inside. On Belle Isle, revelers sought shade from the sturdiest oak. At MotorCity Casino, gamblers took advantage of the free air-conditioning.

The heat that swamped Metro Detroit Monday will subside Tuesday but return with greater force later in the week, said the National Weather Service.

Call Monday a practice run.

"I need a swimming pool," Erica Brandon of Detroit said as she played the slots at MotorCity.

She normally saves her gambling for the weekend, but Monday's heat burst extended her run of fun another day.

This week's forecast: hot, hotter, hottest.

Temperatures are expected to reach 85 Wednesday, 91 Thursday and 95 Friday, said the weather service. Saturday will continue the fun at 94 and Sunday 88.

Ebiyemi Kweli plays with her nephew Te'man Kweli, 10, in the cool water of the Detroit River at the Belle Isle beach Monday.

Nights will bring little relief because of the high humidity.

The weather service described the looming temperatures as an "urban heat island," which still may be more bearable than "Fantasy Island."

On Monday, Westland opened cooling centers at its library, fire station, police lobby and two community centers. Bottled water was provided.

The turnout was light but, again this was just a tuneup. Bigger crowds are expected later in the week.

At the Westland library, several patrons said they were there for the books, not the cold air.

Abbey McLeod of Westland said the weather was mildly uncomfortable but nothing she couldn't handle.

"I just drink lots of water," said McLeod, continuing the fluid theme started by Brandon.

On Belle Isle, the Melton family of Detroit sought refuge under the widest tree they could find. They settled under an oak that gave them a view of the Detroit skyline.

Despite the shade, daughter Najah held an umbrella over her head. One can't be too careful, she allowed.

For entertainment, the family was visited by a flock of Canada geese who hoped to be fed. But the Melton lunch basket was for the Meltons.

"They won't leave," said Najah, 11. "They're funny."

Besides heat, Monday also brought a threatening dose of pollution, said a Michigan agency.

The mix of humidity and pollutants make the air harder to breath for the young, old and people with lung disease, said the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

The Michigan department, which declared Monday an ozone action day, advised residents to try to limit their outdoor activity to the morning, take breaks and reduce outside exertion.

The agency also suggests people hold off on fueling up their vehicles and lawnmowers until evening. The reason: ozone flourishes in the sunlight, it said.

The fact that July is hot doesn't surprise anyone. But, if you think it's hotter than normal, you're right.

Thus far, the month has had an average high of 87.2 degrees compared with the historical high of 83.4.

But all this talk about heat, humidity and ozone levels doesn't faze Mike Cassell of Romeo.

While other customers of The Greek in Greektown were inside the restaurant, he had the outside patio all to himself.

Cassell soaked up the sunshine as he munched on a salad and read "Moonlight Sonata," a novel about forbidden love.

"It's not bad. It's not Florida," he said about the heat.

He's never lived in the Sunshine State but knows how unbearably hot it gets there during the summer.

Just like Detroit will be in a few days.

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