The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

The student news site of the University of Northern Iowa

Northern Iowan

Panthers sweat their paws off

Record-breaking highs cause some professors to cancel classes amidst sweltering heat
Students catch some relief from the heat in front of St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center on Tuesday by enjoying some walking tacos in the shade and getting misted by an inflatable dinosaur sprinkler.

While the dog days of summer are technically over, Panthers are still trying to escape the heat during one of the hottest first weeks of classes in UNI history.

The entire state of Iowa is under an Excessive Heat Warning issued by the National Weather Service for Tuesday and Wednesday, which may be extended later into the week. With temperatures forecast to reach 104 degrees and a heat index of 111 on Wednesday, the heat is likely to break records.

According to National Weather Service meteorologist Rod Donovan, the heatwave is uncommon this late in August.

“We have a large, upper level high pressure system that’s basically parked right over the Midwest this week,” he said. “This large area of high pressure is basically rotating everything up and around Iowa and is creating a big heat dome around the Midwest.”

Combined with lows at night dipping down to only the 70s and high humidity, the weather can provide serious health risks – and some university organizations are responding.

Some professors have already canceled classes on Wednesday.  UNI Athletics has also rescheduled Tuesday’s women’s soccer game against Southern Utah to 10 a.m. instead of its original 1 p.m. kickoff.

The College Hill Farmers Market, typically held every Wednesday afternoon from May to October, has canceled this week’s market due to the high temperatures.

St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center located on 23rd Street also had a lineup of welcome week events planned, some of which are being altered to help students stay cool.

“No one wants to be sick because of the heat during the first week of class… Especially not the first week of the school year,”

— Paul Lee

“Part of it is playing it day by day,” Director Paul Lee said. While he’s looking at slightly changing some of the events, like the Taco Tuesday lunch, the heat is also an opportunity to extend some summer fun into the start of the school year. 

“We’re planning to still have it outside, but we’re going to bring some big inflatable sprinklers to A, add some sprinklers, but B, just add some fun. One is a six foot tall dinosaur that squirts out water, so it’s something that’s fun and different.”

The student center also had an outdoor concert with Christian artist PJ Anderson planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday on Lawther Field. Lee said the concert will still go on, but he is currently working with Maucker Union staff to find an indoor location for the event.

In making these decisions, Lee said he and his team have been prioritizing student comfort and safety.

“No one wants to be sick because of the heat during the first week of class… Especially not the first week of the school year,” he said. “Our decisions are really based on, is it going to be the best environment for the students, because ultimately that’s what everything is here for.”

Out of UNI’s nine dorms, Lawther Hall, Panther Village and Roth Apartments have air conditioning in all rooms. The other dorms, housing primarily freshmen, do not have any air conditioning other than in lounges and common areas.

Shull resident and third-year student Maya Justice has been trying to beat the heat, but for her, having a fan in her dorm has been key.

“I didn’t have a fan until yesterday, and when we first walked into my dorm, it was the same heat as it was outside,” she said.

She has also been spending time in other air conditioned buildings on campus, like Rod Library and Maucker Union, and in her floor’s lounge. Some dorms have even allowed residents to sleep in the air conditioned lounges through Saturday.

Meteorologist Donovan, who also attended college at UNI, has his own dorm-cooling tricks.

“We’re not going to cool down at night too much, so I think if you can at all possible, get the fans in, get the windows open at night when possible, then close the windows in the daytime,” he said.

He also recommended finding ways to cut through air conditioned buildings during long treks to classes, staying hydrated and exercising earlier in the day to avoid heat stroke.

The Center for Disease Control lists signs of heat stroke as high body temperature above 103 degrees, hot, red, dry or damp skin, fast, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion or losing consciousness. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should call 911 immediately.


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STEPHEN STARK, Photographer
Steph is a freshman majoring in art history. He mostly photographs sports, but also enjoys shooting street photography. He enjoys skateboarding in his free time. 

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