When pigs Mickey and Willie get hot, they raise a ruckus and let their 4-H handler Jacey Sims know about it.
“You can see them breathing really fast and will know that they are hot, or they will start complaining — they start yelling,” the 16-year-old said, pointing out another swine in the pig barn at the Yuma County Fair that was making loud grunting sounds Thursday afternoon.
Sims, along with scores of other competitors, their animals and thousands of fairgoers, will face record-breaking high temperatures Friday.
According to AccuWeather, Yuma can expect a high of 100 degrees along with hot and blazing sunshine. The normal high this time of year is 83.
At 9 a.m. Friday it will be 81 degrees, 95 by noon, 100 by 3 p.m. and back down to 82 by 8 p.m.
There will be a light breeze from the northwest throughout the day.
On Saturday there will be a high of 95 and on Sunday a high of 88 as the weather begins to cool off again.
Such hot temperatures in early April are not strange, said Ken Clark, expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather.
“Right now we are a week past the spring solstice, which means the sun is as high in the sky now as it is in the second week of September — and hitting 100 degrees then is not all that unusual.”
A high-pressure system is keeping the air in the jetstream up at 18,000 feet heated, Clark explained. “When that happens, it gets warmer than normal here at the surface. In the desert especially it warms up real easily.”
However, the temperatures are expected to decline again by the last day of the fair, Clark said.
“You typically, in the springtime, can have some pretty large temperature swings. The high will move away for the weekend and then we will be below normal again.”
But for Friday and Saturday, the heat is on.
Thirteen-year-old Alodie Howard, a member of 4-H who has entered her two goats Hobo and Baby for competition, has a special way to keep them cool.
“I get paper towels, dip them in the water and squirt it on them to cool them off some.”
Since pigs don't sweat, Sims has to take special measures to ensure Mickey and Willie stay happy.
“We normally spray them down and make sure they have water and electrolytes. You can use Gatorade, but there is a special pig (liquid) which you mix with the water. When they drink it, they stay hydrated.”
Fourteen-year-old Ross Wofford, also a member of 4-H, agreed it is important to keep his pig Slinks hydrated.
“You have to keep their water as high as it can be so they can get a drink whenever they want,” he said as a nearby pig gulped down water.
He also keeps Slinks as wet as possible.
“Usually when they are laying down, you spray them off every once in awhile. In the mornings what you want to do is get a damp towel and lay it on top of them so they can cool off.”
Pigs get angry when becoming too hot, he said. “They squeal a lot, and they'll start lifting up on the gates sometimes.”
Eric Wofford, general manager of the Yuma Country Fair, won't allow the weather to put a crimp on the festivities.
“It might be plus or minus a couple of degrees, but there is plenty of fluids around here to keep you nice and cool, so I really don't think it is going to affect us that much.
“Obviously we are going to be open and ready to go. We are not going to stop because of the weather. If there are high temperatures during the day, there will probably be awesome temperatures at night.”
There are plenty of ways to stay cool at the fair, Wofford said.
“During the day we've got lemonade stands, shaved ice and all the nonprofit food booths are selling drinks. We've got plenty of stuff to keep you cool.”
John Needham, who operates a shaved ice stand near the main stage, said hot weather is actually a great thing for him.
“That is the bread and butter of my business. Everything I do is predicated on heat. Heat is 100 percent good as long as the people come out, and I believe they will because they are used to the heat here.”
Wofford reminds those who head out to the fair to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.
If someone is adversely affected by the heat, Wofford said, there are plenty of emergency personnel around to help.
“We've got the fire department, sheriff's department, Rural/Metro — they are all out here on grounds in case something does happen or somebody gets heat exhaustion. They will be there in minutes. We are prepared.”
Wofford said it is tradition for the weather to do something unexpected each year.
“You never know. It's funny — everybody says there's always got to be one bad day of weather. We've had rain, wind, an earthquake — you name it.”
Wofford expects the fair to go off without a hitch this year despite the high temperatures.
“Come on out and have a great time rain or shine — and a lot of shine, apparently,” he said with a laugh.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.