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Excessive heat wave smothers city for 2nd straight day — but storm brings relief

Temperatures peaked in the mid 90s, until a thunderstorm rolling into the area Saturday evening helped cool the city down.

The city is opening cooling centers and placing cooling buses in response to extreme heat in July 2020.
Festival-goers try to beat the heat in a CTA cooling bus at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Union Park on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
Santiago Covarrubias/For the Sun-Times

Chicagoans hit with a stifling heat wave that settled over the city Friday were faced with more of the same Saturday, until a thunderstorm brought cooler temperatures.

After a day in which temperatures peaked at 93 degrees and never fell below 81 — the “highest low” temperature ever recorded in Chicago for the date of July 19 — the National Weather Service advised residents to take the same precautions on Saturday.

Saturday’s temperatures topped out at 95 degrees, forecasters said, with heat index values — which take humidity into account — made it feel more like 106.

At Pitchfork Music Festival, three CTA “cooling buses” were lined up to provide festival attendees with some much needed air conditioning before the storms struck about 5 p.m. and caused a delay in the music. Pitchfork attendees were asked to leave the festival due to the severe weather, but were allowed back in about 6:30 p.m.

Elsewhere in the city, six cooling centers were spread out to provide respite to folks in need.

In Pilsen, hundreds turned out for the Tacos and Tamales street festival on 16th Street. While some embraced the heat, groups trying to stay out of the scorching sun gathered under overpasses while chowing down on food from a lineup of tents and trucks.

Crowds toughed out the hot weather Saturday and showed up for a taco festival in Pilsen.
Nader Issa/Sun-Times

The heat wave forced the cancelation of several outdoor events planned for Saturday, including the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll 5k at Grant Park and the morning workout on the Great Lawn at Millennium Park.

“The storms helped cool things off, but the actual cold front is still to the north,” NWS meteorologist Charles Mott said. “That will come through the area on Sunday.”

High temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 70s through mid-week.