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Summer '12 gets off to a hot start

Summer arrived in full force in Western New York on Wednesday, with sunshine and sultry temperatures that prompted a heat advisory from the National Weather Service.

Some residents didn't seem to mind the heat.

"The hotter the better," Robert Coles said enthusiastically at the William-Emslie YMCA Senior Center, where he and his wife were checking out the pool.

The temperature climbed to 85 degrees, seven degrees short of the record for the date, according to the weather service. A strong breeze developed off the lakes that led to cooler temperatures in Buffalo, meteorologist Kirk Apffel said.

The heat and mugginess are expected to continue today, and break with the arrival of a cold front on Friday.

The city provided residents with several options for beating the heat, including declaring 17 sites as cooling centers and opening eight splash pads from 3:30 until 7 p.m through Friday.

Although temperatures weren't record-breaking, Wednesday's weather was unseasonably warm for Buffalo. The average temperature on June 20 is 68 degrees, with 1995 holding the record at 92 degrees.

The hot start to summer -- the solstice officially occurred at 7:08 p.m. -- doesn't necessarily foretell an unusually hot summer, Apffel said. The long-range forecast shows July and August will be on par with the average, he said.

As the hot temperatures continue today, residents are advised to stay hydrated, wear lightweight clothing, and avoid strenuous activity during peak heat. The hottest time of day is usually about 4 p.m., Apffel said.

Crystal Ellison, of Buffalo, spent the afternoon at the Kensington splash pad, with two friends and six nieces and nephews. The adults set up blankets and chairs under a tree, while the children played in the water. She also enjoyed the weather, and was happy for the heat.

"I'm always happy with the sun in Buffalo," she said.

Pet owners must also remember to take appropriate care of their animals during the hot weather, said Gina Browning, director of public relations for SPCA Serving Erie County. SPCA received a call at 8 a.m. Wednesday about a dog left in a pickup truck with the windows open slightly.

When SPCA rescued the dog at about 9 a.m., the temperature in the car exceeded 100 degrees and the dog was close to suffering from heat stroke, Browning said.

Also in effect is an Air Quality Health Advisory from the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. today. The department lists several energy-saving and pollution-reducing tips, including closing shades and blinds to prevent heat build-up, using mass transportation and unplugging electrical equipment.

The cooling centers will be open to the public through tonight. They are located at 17 air conditioned community and senior citizen centers throughout the city.