Tennessee sweats out brutal heat wave; Record 101 in Jackson

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - Parts of West and Middle Tennessee experienced the worst of a continuing heat wave that has led to record power usage, canceled football practices and for one company, a boom in ice sales.

A 1980 record of 101 degrees was matched in Jackson, where heat shelters and shuttle service were set up for seniors without air conditioners.

Somerville and Lexington reached highs of 102 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Dyersburg and Bolivar reported highs of 100 degrees, while Memphis International Airport reported a high of 97.

Nashville hit a high of 100, still under a 1930 record of 104. Several surrounding cities in Middle Tennessee were also in triple digits.

Scattered power outages, some of which could have been caused by record power demands, were reported in the Nashville suburb of Gallatin and in western Knox County. Some schools had to cancel classes because of broken air conditioning.

Temperatures in the eastern part of the state were only slightly less oppressive, with a high of 99 in Chattanooga, 96 in Knoxville and 95 at Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

A heat advisory was expected to remain in effect through Thursday for most of the Southeast. Heat index readings were expected to exceed 100 in parts of the state on Wednesday.

The Tennessee Valley Authority set a peak power demand record Tuesday for the second day in a row and was expected to set another new high Wednesday, spokesman Gil Francis said.

The country's largest public utility, which serves seven states, sold 32,888 megawatts of electricity by 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

That broke an all-time peak record of 32,095 megawatts set on Monday.

"If the conditions hold, we will have a new record today," Francis said on Wednesday.

Businesses and residents struggled to cope with the high temperatures. Many cities set up cooling shelters for people without air conditioning, and the usual summer football practices were moved indoors or postponed.

The Tennessee Titans moved their Wednesday morning training camp workout inside, and the schedule set before training camp opened takes the NFL team out of the afternoon heat with a night practice at LP Field under the lights.

State health authorities recommend postponing outdoor activities until the evening, drinking water - even if not thirsty - and checking on elderly and sick friends and relatives. They also say people should not leave pets or children in cars for any length of time because cars become hot quickly.

The East Tennessee Ice Co. in Maryville, about 15 miles south of Knoxville, is selling more ice now than during the Fourth of July holiday.

Randy Perkins, son of owner Thomas Perkins, told The Daily Times the company is "selling it as fast as we can make it," about 100 tons a day.

The Dollywood theme park needs more than 20,000 pounds of ice, and the University of Tennessee football team is using 8,000 pounds of ice per day, Perkins said.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)