Lisa Cornwell

CINCINNATI: Triple-digit temperatures forecast Thursday around Ohio were expected to increase the risk of fire in extremely dry areas while adding to oppressive conditions and health risks where humidity levels were starting to rise.

Ohioans who have been enjoying comfortable nights and mornings in parts of the southwest and central sections of the state could expect that to come to an end by Thursday night, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Seth Binau.

The lack of humidity over the past few weeks allowed those areas to cool off at night even with daytime temperatures in the 90s, Binau said.

“It’s been like the desert, where it’s extremely dry in the day and cools off at night,” he said.

Excessive-heat warnings and heat advisories were issued throughout the state with forecasts calling for temperatures of 100 degrees or higher in areas including Cincinnati and Dayton with the thermometer expected to approach 100 degrees in Columbus and Toledo. Cooling centers were designated in many parts of the state to help those Ohioans needing to escape the heat.

The high temperatures combined with increased winds and still relatively low humidity levels, especially in northwest Ohio, led the National Weather Service to issue warnings of a high fire danger from noon into Thursday night for much of the western part of the state.

Dry and windy conditions could lead fires to spread quickly if any develop, said Martin Thompson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Cleveland office.

“We don’t recommend outside burning,” he said.

The soaring temperatures and increasing humidity was predicted to create a “double-edged sword” over the next five days in much of the western part of Ohio, Binau said.

Binau said that while an expected rise in humidity levels especially in southwest Ohio would make the air more oppressive, it should help decrease the fire danger over the next several days.

“Fires don’t like humidity,” he said.

Humidity puts more stress on the body, especially during outside activities, because it makes it harder for perspiration to evaporate.

State health officials are urging people not to spend too much time outdoors and to stay hydrated to avoid heat-related illness over the next several days.

Landscapers and mowing crews got an early start on Thursday to beat the afternoon heat — some started even earlier.

Tom Curdes, owner of Barron’s Lawn Service in suburban Toledo, said his employees pushed to get more yards done earlier in the week. He also sent out an extra mowing crew on Thursday so his workers would be done early.

“We’re just trying to be as safe as possible,” he said.

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Associated Press writer John Seewer in Toledo contributed to this report.