High temperatures expected, but bad for Bel Air's Main Street businesses

The high temperatures in Harford County, like those around the region, are affecting local businesses and how people plan their days.

But even these hot July days aren't outside of the norm for the state, at least according to local residents, who say they are bracing for the worst as the week progresses.

The prospect for triple-digits on the thermometer has some business owners in Bel Air bemoaning the lack of customers, as people stay close to home or in cooler places, like local pools, to beat the heat.

Tom Leach, owner of W. T. Dogs, a hotdog stand across from the Harford County Sheriff's Office's Main Street headquarters, said the hot weather does adversely affect his business.

"Folks don't want to come out when it's hot and humid," Leach said Tuesday afternoon.

As for his own precautions, Leach said, he stays under the trees and in the shade, where a nice breeze can usually be felt to ease the high temperatures. He also makes sure to stay hydrated during times like these when the business side, at least, is like a "ghost town."

One thing he did notice was that there seemed to be an uptake in deliveries from other restaurant businesses, for people who didn't necessarily want to go out in the heat to get their own food.

Steve Ross, owner of the Little NY Deli on Main Street, said the hot weather was also affecting his business even though it was out of the heat and inside with air conditioning.

"People don't want to walk in this weather," Ross said, "and [they] certainly don't feel like eating."

The "miserable" weather combined with the economy compounded the issue, Ross said, and made it worse. The parking issues on Main Street and poor traffic flow alone affected business, without the added heat.

"You just try to hold on," he said. "There's nothing else you can do."

Brian Lasorsa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said forecasters expect high temperatures and heat indexes in the coming days, especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures to be in the upper 90s on Thursday, near 100 on Friday and just as hot on Saturday.

"All three days will be excessively hot and humid," Lasorsa said, adding that the heat would "cause problems" if people didn't take the "necessary precautions."

Even though it's a few days out, he did say there should to be a break in the heat early next week, but forecasters aren't sure because it's still so far out.

"It looks like the worst is Thursday, Friday and Saturday," Lasorsa added.

Harford County government spokesman Robert Thomas wrote in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon that the county would not be opening its normal cooling centers on Wednesday, but the Emergency Operations Center, Health Department and Community Services were working to determine what to do, if anything at all, for Thursday and Friday.

Meanwhile, the early week heat didn't stop all visitors to Bel Air's Main Street, including Billie Labhart, who was out and about Tuesday afternoon.

As long as she can get cool, Labhart said, whether it is through her car or house air conditioning, she doesn't mind the hot weather, especially because she prefers summer to winter anyway.

When she is outside, though, Labhart says she keeps remembering the last winter.

"It doesn't make me cool," she said, "but it makes me realize I'm glad we have the seasons here."

Many people, including Kevin Wisniewski, echoed this sentiment. Wisniewski stopped by W. T. Dogs and was sitting on a bench in the shade Tuesday. Having been born in Havre de Grace and raised inAberdeen, he was used to this type of weather.

"We have these phases in Maryland," he said.

He did acknowledge, though, that he was considering going to the beach this weekend because of the heat, or at least "wouldn't mind" being at a pool somewhere. As for now, however, he said he avoided exercising in the morning and stayed inside more, but still wasn't surprised by the heat.

"The reason why I like Maryland is that we have seasons," Wisniewski added.

Wisniewski wasn't the only visitor to mention the water, a some people walking also took advantage of the nearby fountain to cool off on occasion.

Wanda Washington was in the area with her 4-year-old granddaughter Amekay Carter, both of whom who were sitting in the shade with hot dogs.

"I love the summer weather," Washington said, "[but] I'd rather be somewhere near the water."

Amekay, too, said she likes the weather but also thought it was "too hot."

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