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It's hot, but not hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk

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Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2003 10:00 pm

It didn't get hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk Thursday, but the air quality could've killed the chicken that laid the egg.

Temperatures soared in Lodi for the 10th day in a row, reaching a high of 102.

And while it wasn't hot enough to fry an egg on Lodi sidewalks, the heat did force the Air Quality Index for San Joaquin County up to 111, triggering air quality officials at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to declare a "Spare the Air" day.

Omelet House manager Dalia Ramadan breaks an egg onto the pavement Thursday. Though the temperature exceeded 100 degrees, the egg would not cook on the hot pavement. (Jerry R. Tyson/News-Sentinel)

With the sun scorching the city Thursday afternoon, Dalia Ramadan, owner of the Omelet House on Victor Road, helped the News-Sentinel conduct a multi-egg test to see if an old adage about "It's hot enough to …" was true or not.

The results: One egg coagulated slightly at the bottom of a steel pan held by Ramadan while another was cracked open over the sidewalk outside her restaurant, and a third one slid onto the parking lot's asphalt.

None of the three eggs fried.

"It's not hot enough," Ramadan said.

Perhaps today would have been a better day.

The heat will continue, with highs expected to reach 102 in Lodi, according to the latest forecast.

"There's been a persistent high-pressure system over the Rockies that's not moving," said Ken Clark of AccuWeather, a national weather forecasting service.

The high-pressure system is blocking any breeze from the Pacific Ocean. As long as it stays there, "it's going to be hot," Clark said.

Weekend vacationers and day-trippers can escape the Valley heat by heading either to the coast or to the Sierra Nevada. Heat-lowering thundershowers and cooler temperatures are predicted for the weekend in the Lake Tahoe area.

The air quality index for San Joaquin County was 111 Thursday, making it unhealthy for people sensitive to air pollution to exert themselves in the heat.

The AQI measures the amount of pollution in the air.

Fresno County had an AQI over 151, a level considered unhealthy for everyone. On such days, health officials at the SJVAPCD ask citizens to reduce driving and use of gasoline-powered equipment by declaring a Spare the Air Day.

Thursday was declared a Spare the Air Day in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties due to their proximity to Fresno County.

The air quality in the Central Valley is especially bad on hot summer days when temperatures exceed 100 degrees like it did Thursday and is predicted to do today.

Smog, the dingy brown residue that can be seen hanging over the Valley like the discarded butt of a used cigarette, is responsible for the poor air. Smog is composed mostly of ozone.

Ozone is created when nitrogen oxide, a gas emitted from cars, and volatile organic compounds (like fumes from paint thinners and gasoline) mix in an atmospheric stew. When temperatures rise over 100 degrees, a chemical reaction takes place creating ozone.

The ozone in smog is a potentially deadly part of the air, according to Anthony Presto, a public education representative for SJVAPCD.

"Ozone gets into lungs and penetrates cell walls," he said. "It's a proven fact that there are more emergency room trips for asthma patients" on polluted days, he added.

The intake of ozone can also lead to premature death and is linked to cancer, he added.

The poor air quality of the day also affects animals, including the mothers of those non-fried eggs.

"Anyone with a respiratory system needs clean air … including chickens," Presto said.

Comments about this story? Send mail to the News-Sentinel newsroom.


To subscribe to the Lodi News-Sentinel, fill out our online form or call our Subscriber Services Department at (209) 333-1400.



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