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Steamy forecast prompts city to open most splash pads a month early

Eight of Buffalo's 11 splash pads will be open today -- more than a month ahead of normal schedule -- to help city residents cope with temperatures expected to hit near 90 degrees.

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown decided Sunday to open splash pads from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Memorial Day.

City officials hope the shallow pools where water sprays from a fountain help keep children and adults away from unsafe bodies of water.

In past years, unseasonably hot days in May and June -- when city splash pads and pools are typically still closed -- have resulted in tragic drownings and close calls in the Buffalo River, Cazenovia Creek and two ponds on Squaw Island.

"It's always a concern," said Michael J. DeGeorge, spokesman for the mayor.

The city also will increase patrols of area parks to discourage illegal swimming, he added.

Crews from the city's Public Works Department worked Sunday to get the splash pads ready. City pools will not be open until a later date, because the pools require lifeguard supervision.

"You don't need a lifeguard for the splash pads," said DeGeorge.

Forecasters are predicting record heat today, with temperatures in the high 80s to 90 degrees near Lake Erie and into the mid-90s in inland valley areas.

Higher humidity is also in the forecast, which will make the air feel even warmer.

"It's going to be oppressive, especially for late May," said Jim Mitchell, National Weather Service meteorologist.

The previous record high temperature for May 28 is 86 degrees, set in 1987. The temperature reached as high as 84 degrees Sunday. Normal high temperature for this time of year is 70 degrees.

The heat will stick around probably until Tuesday evening, when a front moves into the area and causes a weather pattern change. Western New York will then see below-normal high temperatures in the mid- to upper 60s, with a better chance of rain, as well, likely through next weekend.

Splash pads will be turned on today at the following park locations: Allison on Reese Street; Cazenovia, near the Cazenovia Park casino; Centennial, at the foot of Porter Avenue; Kensington, at Grider Street and Kensington Avenue; Lanigan, on Fulton Street, between Chicago and Louisiana streets; Schiller, on the Sprenger Avenue side; Lincoln, at the end of Quincy Street; and Masten, on Best Street, next to the Johnnie B. Wiley Stadium.

After today, these splash pads will open again based on weather conditions.

Splash pads in Martin Luther King, Houghton and Roosevelt parks are under construction and remain closed.