BELMAR/LAKE COMO, NJ — With temperatures expected to rise well into the 90s this weekend, Belmar and Lake Como have plans in place to open a cooling center at the Belmar Municipal Gymnasium, 601 Main Street.

Its opening and hours of operation will depend on weather conditions and power-related issues. “As the temperature rises and there is a need for the cooling center to be open, that's what we will base it on,” said Belmar Business Administrator Edward Kirschenbaum. “The biggest fear with this type of (weather) forecast is the loss of power or JCP&L conducting rolling brownouts, which means (cutting)  the grid to certain areas. There's no indication that's going to happen, but we have to be prepared.”

The center will be set up in the gymnasium, directly accessible from the Main Street entrance of the Belmar Municipal Building.

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The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning that will take effect at noon today, July 19 and will last through 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 21. The most dangerous heat and humidity — resulting in a heat index value of up to 110 degrees — will occur from mid-afternoon into the early evening for the next three days.

Meanwhile, the forecast is certain to bring an influx of weekend visitors to the beachfront seeking relief from the summer scorcher. Skies will be most sunny tomorrow, with a high near 91, a heat index value as high as 103 and a southwest wind of around 8 mph.  There is a low risk of rip currents and an extremely high UV index from the sun, and the ocean water temperature is 76 degrees.

The excessive heat and humidity may cause heat stress or heat stroke. The most susceptible individuals are the elderly and those with pre-existing health issues. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool shaded location. Heat stroke is an emergency; call 911.

The National Weather Service advises individuals to take extra precautions if they work or will be spending time outside. When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to the early morning or the late evening. Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing. Drink plenty of water.

Young children and pets should never be left unattended in a vehicle under any circumstance. This is especially true during hot weather when a car`s interior can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes. Also, remember to check on elderly relatives and neighbors.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service:

Today: Mostly sunny, with a high near 88. Northwest wind 5 to 11 mph becoming south in the afternoon. 

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 78. Southwest wind 8 to 10 mph.

Tomorow: Mostly sunny, with a high near 91. Heat index values as high as 103. Southwest wind around 8 mph.

Tomorrow night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 80. Southwest wind around 9 mph.

Sunday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Southwest wind 7 to 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30 percent.

Sunday night: A chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly cloudy, with a low around 78. Chance of precipitation is 50 percent. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.

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