Drought task force sees ominous signs for weeks ahead

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — By early afternoon, temperatures in central Massachusetts approached 95 degrees – threatening, on this fifth day of the heatwave, to break some records.

“It’s horrible,” said Marlborough resident Linda Cutting. “Just long, long periods of heat.”

In fact, this heatwave is expected to last one more day – virtually tying the seven-day stretch of temperatures in the 90s of mid-July.

“I never really liked using air conditioning that much,” Cutting said. “But boy it’s getting a work out this year, believe me.”

In fact, Cutting even leaves the air conditioning on for her cat, knowing how much animals can suffer in the heat, too.

Catherine Mischenko remembers a time when air conditioning was more a luxury than a lifesaver.

“We had no air conditioning,” the Marlborough resident said. “I was in a fifth floor walk-up. But they had windows that opened at the top so you could let the hot air out...open the bottom and let the cool air in.”

Mischenko also remembers a time when heat waves were a short-lived affair.

“it wasn’t as hot as this. for long periods, a stretch,” she said. “We’d have a day or two, you know, in June or September.”

Mischenko and Cutting were among several dozen Marlborough residents who spent part of Monday in the air-conditioned comfort of the city’s senior center, a designated cooling center. Director Tricia Pope said she hasn’t had many come in specifically to get cool – because she thinks it’s so hot, the elderly don’t want to leave their houses.

For the younger crowd, Marlborough is keeping splash pads open until 7 p.m. By noon, around 20 children played in the water at the Ghiloni Park splash pad. Their parents, meanwhile, sat in the shade.

With no rain in sight and only spotty showers and storms the last several days, concern is growing about a prolonged drought.

The Massachusetts Drought Task Force met Monday amid the worsening conditions.

Various speakers made this much clear: the drought was bad in July – and it seems to be getting worse in August – with river levels down and some areas completely missing out on precipitation.

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