Not too hot for construction workers | NevadaAppeal.com

Not too hot for construction workers

by Maggie O'Neill, Appeal staff writer
Paul Hubbard, with KB Far Construction of Carson City, beats the heat on Thursday afternoon at a construction site in Northridge. Hubbard says he drinks two gallons of water a day and takes regular breaks in the shade.
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With perspiration and relief mingling on his face, house framer Rich Aguilera was wrapping up his third day of work in record-breaking, triple-digit heat.

At 104 degrees, said Aguilera, who has been framing houses for five years, it wasn’t too bad on Thursday.

“Yesterday was the hottest day,” Aguilera said, a water bottle strapped to his back. “Today’s pretty hot, but the breeze came up. It’s much nicer.”

Kalor Brothers’ Framing and Remodeling employees work a 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. shift during the summer — 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. during the winter — to protect them from the hot summer weather.

The high of 104 on Thursday in Carson City was a degree short of Wednesday’s all-time record, although it still broke the record for the date, set at 101 degrees in 1959.

Munching on sunflower seeds, Aguilera said he learned the trick from veteran construction workers. “Helps retain water,” he said.

Wrapped snugly on his head like an undersized turban was his blue T-shirt. His forehead glistened.

“It keeps the sweat out of my eyes. It burns when it gets in. Plus, the shirt is a little damp and keeps me cool.”

Jerry Garcia, also a house framer who moved to Carson City five months ago and just married two weeks ago, said the key to keeping cool is lots of water. Garcia supplements the water with Powerade, multivitamins in the morning to give him energy, and a 10 a.m. lunch before the temperature becomes too hot.

Working in the bottom part of a two-story house, Garcia and Aguilera had the advantage of shade compared to workers putting up the second floor of the home. With the sun reflecting off of plywood and no walls for shade on the upstairs story, temperatures can feel 15 degrees hotter, according to John Kalor, brother to Matt Kalor, the owner of the construction company.

Garcia said anything was better than 300 days of rain in Portland.

“You make good money and you always have a suntan,” he said. “I don’t lose my tan until the first of the year.”

He said the heat wasn’t bad, and he can get used to it. After the 105-degree scorcher on Wednesday, though, he realized on his way home that he couldn’t talk. “I needed more energy.”

Kalor, foreman for the Northridge site, said 13 men were at work in Thursday’s sun, which slowly was eclipsed by clouds by midafternoon.

Kalor said three workmen under him make sure the men are surviving the hot sun. No one has passed out. If any worker says he’s hot, which is unusual except for the regular rigmarole about the heat, it’s break time. Kalor wants his workers to keep their shirts on, too, to protect from a sunburn and to measure perspiration.

“If they’re not sweating, it means they’re not hydrated,” he said.

Kalor, who was born and raised in Carson City, said most of his crew, except Garcia and another worker from South Dakota, were local and accustomed to the heat.

“It’s when you go from 60 degrees to 100 degrees that your body is not used to it,” he said. “We’ve kinda eased into this heat.”

Kalor said it didn’t feel too hot to him — maybe 95 degrees.

“I’m kind of enjoying it,” he said. “I love the heat.”

State climatologist John James said the two-day heat wave gripping Northern Nevada was a rarity.

“We’ve had the same temperatures today (Thursday) as we had yesterday,” James said. “It’s just unique and never happened before, going so long.”

When the clouds moved in Thursday, James said they would bring a temporary end to the record-setting highs.

“We’ll have a period of transition of cooler weather, then back to what we have now,” he said.

James predicted that Nevada’s three-year drought would continue through the next water year, which begins in October.

“If it happens again, we might have troubles with power generation, recreation and domestic needs,” he said. “It isn’t good and I hope I am wrong.”

James recalled the summer of 1962 when unseasonably hot temperatures were followed by a freeze in August.

“We’ve had no summer,” he said, “but sometimes it turns the other way and gets chilly.”

In Reno, the temperature hit 108 degrees again Thursday, tying Wednesday’s all-time record breaker. The highest nighttime temperature in Reno, a high of 64 degrees, was broken Wednesday night. In Carson Valley, the all-time high record of 106 degrees was broken Wednesday with an official temperature of 109 degrees at Minden, James said.

Even with thunderstorms expected over the weekend, the hot streak will not drop until early next week.

“Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, it’s going to be a little bit wetter, with a little rainfall, and hard rainfall in isolated areas,” said Jane Hollingsworth, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’re concerned with gusty winds, especially on Saturday as we moisten up.”

Long-range summer temperatures are expected to be above normal.

“If we stay in this pattern and we’re hot so early, we could see a lot of heat,” Hollingsworth said. “And then when we get to the fall, we’re looking at normal temperatures, in October and November.”