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Weekend highs to top 100

ALBANY, Ga. -- Feeling a little hot under the collar today? Blame the weather. A heat wave is expected to hit Albany and Southwest Georgia today and last until late Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the 100s today and peak at 102, said NWS meteorologist Ken Gould.

"It (the temperatures) will start to slowly drop off by Saturday. It's not going to be long-term," said the meteorologist.

In addition to the short length of the heat wave, residents can also take relief in the fact that meteorologists predict humidity levels will be fairly low.

The heat wave is part of a system that has been steadily baking the Northeastern part of the nation and is slowly making its way south.

Philadelphia, Richmond, Va., and Baltimore have all been severely affected by the heat wave, with recorded temperatures on Tuesday of an unseasonable 105.

Buckled roads, warped rail lines and power outages caused by many citizens pushing electrical grids to the limit have plagued Northeastern states for days.

Albany citizens will not have to face such fears during the heat wave, said Water Gas & Light Commission Assistant General Manager of Customer Relations Lorie Farkas.

"It is really a non-issue," said Farkas Wednesday in a phone interview with The Herald. "It (heat waves) never affects WG&L. We just don't have that kind of load on our system."

Electrical burnouts can be common during strong heat waves as citizens try to escape the uncomfortably high temperatures by lowering their thermostats.

Albany's wild residents can also rest easy -- and probably will -- as temperatures climb throughout the end of the week, according to Chehaw Park's Zoo Curator Jan Thompson.

"The heat basically makes them less active," the curator said of the park's numerous wildlife. "They will most likely stay in the shade when things start to warm up."

Thompson said as a precaution the zoo will not be performing any non-essential procedures, like physical check-ups or blood work, on the animals during the heat wave to avoid adding additional stress.

The zookeeper said park personnel will also be more vigilant in making sure all the animal exhibits have enough water for the wildlife to stay hydrated.

"Some of them, like the alpacas and rhinos, like to be washed down during really warm days to cool off, so we will probably be doing that or we will turn on the sprinklers so they can stay cool," Thompson said.

The meerkats, one of Chehaw's newest animal exhibits, will be able to beat the heat indoors if they choose. Part of their exhibit, according to Thompson, is air conditioned and stays cool most of the time due to the vegetative roof on the building.

Gould said the temperatures may be hot, but Georgians and North Floridians are lucky to be close to coast lines.

"We usually get one to two (heat waves) per summer, but we are so close to the water the sea breeze saves us. The wind coming off the ocean waves is cool," he said.

The heat wave comes to the South after a record-breaking month of unusually hot temperatures, said meteorologists.

"It was definitely a hot June. It was the second-hottest June on record in Tallahassee, and the temperatures were slightly hotter than normal in Albany as well," said Gould.