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Temperatures heat up during 'dog days of summer'

By Greg Gelpi

Tongue sagging and flopping about, the dog drooped about wilted by the oppressive summer sun.

Locals doggedly barked up the wrong tree in search of the origins of the dog days of summer, a time of the year known for its grueling heat.

With blazing heat baking the earth, the origins of the saying has slipped from the public's mind, but the heat associated with the saying is still present.

"I've heard of it, but I don't know where it comes from," said Michael Perez, a ranger at Reynolds Nature Preserve. "(Dogs and people) don't want to do very much because the sun takes so much out of them."

When Perez hears the saying, he pictures a dog panting, out of breath from the exhaustive heat.

Hotter than everyday hot that is what Michele Bailey said of the dog days' heat.

The dog days of summer are "when it's really hot, like you don't feel like doing anything hot, you feel like staying inside hot."

Drinking water "pretty much nonstop," the Bailey family is countering the effects of the sun, her husband Tommy Bailey said. He, his wife and his mother peeked out from inside a Morrow garage as the family held a yard sale Friday.

Fresh out of a hole dug in the ground, Rocky Harrison said it's not the heat that makes it hot, but rather the combination of the heat and the humidity.

Harrison, a pipe fitter for Mann Mechanical, endured the heat while working at Clayton College & State University, the sun beating down from overhead. The dog days of summer, though, are a normal occurrence in Georgia with waves of heat hitting every summer.

Ron Corley, 60, has heard about the dog days all of his life, but never really stopped to think about what it means.

"I can relate. In my life, it's always referred to a very hot time of year. A very hot, muggy time of year," he said.

An aircraft mechanic from McDonough, Corley says that the effects of the dog days and the oppressive heat and humidity that come along with them can make the job tough.

"It takes on a whole new meaning when you're out in it," he said.

The phrase "dog days of summer" comes from a heavenly source.

Romans observed the skies and charted constellations, including Canis Major, said Harold R. Banke Jr., lecturer of physics and science education at Clayton College & State University. The brightest star in the constellation, Sirius, also knows as the Dog Star, rises with the sun from late July through early August.

The Romans connected the Dog Star's rising and rising temperatures and thought the two were more than coincidental, Banke said. They thought the bright star added heat to the heat already provided by the sun to make it even hotter during the time of its rising.

According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, this summer has been one half to one degree below the normal for high temperatures.

Forecaster Robert Beasley said "last summer was one of the coolest summers on record," which makes this summer seem warmer than it actually is.

The temperatures will remain low this weekend, Beasley said. A cool front came through Wednesday, stalled and is expected to back through metro Atlanta this weekend.

"That will keep the temperatures down," he said. "We'll be lucky to get into the 80s."

The front brings with it potentially severe weather, Beasley said.

The average temperature in June was 75.9 degrees, about a degree below normal, and so far the average temperature in July has been a half degree below normal. The temperature did hit 92 degrees in June, he said.

Michael Davis of the Daily Herald contributed to this story.