Data released by the National Weather Service (NWS) in State College shows the first 23 days of July in central Pennsylvania were some of the hottest on record.

Although Sunbury and Selinsgrove have large gaps in the data due to co-op sites not providing the information to the NWS through some decades in the 20th century, meteorologist Craig Evanego said the Selinsgrove Area is experiencing the hottest start to July on record since the late 1970s and Sunbury is experiencing the second hottest start to July since 2000.

"It looks like it will stay on the warm side," said Evanego. "We dry out and warm up again this weekend into Monday. There's a bit of a cool down next week, but even that will stay at or above normal."

In Selinsgrove, the previous hottest July was in 2012 with an average of 76.8 degrees for the first 23 days compared to the average of 76.9 degrees for the first 23 days in 2020. After a 25-year gap, the all-time record was 77.5 degrees, he said.

In Sunbury, the old record over a 20-year period was in 2012 with a 76.6 average compared to the average for 2020, which was 76.5, he said.

Harrisburg, since 1888, and Williamsport, since 1895, have complete records of average temperatures.

On Friday, NWS tweeted the following: "This has been the warmest start to July on record at Harrisburg. Through the first 23 days, the average high/low was 92/72, which is identical to July normals in Tallahassee, Florida."

Evanego said Williamsport at 77.9 degrees average is experiencing the fourth hottest July. The current record was set in 1999 at 81.8 degrees average for the month.

Lexus Silvagni, the store manager at Town & Country Pools on Route 405 in Milton, said business is "thriving" due to the warm weather.

"Everybody is staying at home," said Silvagni. "They're buying pools wherever they can. That's making chemical sales go up, liner sales, pool sales. We can't even get pools because they're sold out everywhere. It's really wonderful for the pool business right now, but I wish I could get things because I have people who would absolutely buy."

Town & Country Pools specializes in in-ground pools and they are booked until June of next year for installation. They sell above-ground pools, but don't install, and also offer water testing and chemical sales, she said.

"Customers are going through chemical a lot faster right now, and adding water daily because it's evaporating," said Silvagni.

Cindy Troutman-Myers, of Watsontown, came to shop for pool supplies at Town & Country. She said her college-age children are always in the pool now that they're home from Penn State due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We've been in a couple of times," she said. "The kids have been in." 

Pool sales, attendance

Lynn Miller, manager of E.J. Miller & Sons Pool Company at 388 Church Road, Mifflinburg, said customers and demand are up, but the effects of COVID-19 shutdowns caused the inventory to be down. Products and equipment are unavailable because some factories had to shut down and people are building pools due to staying home, canceling vacations and wanting to spend their stimulus money, he said.

"It's one of those unusual years," said Miller. "We're making adjustments like all the other pool companies."

The company specializes in renovations, repairs and replacements. Some products might not come this year, he said.

"It might have to be next year," said Miller. "I've been waiting six weeks for liners for above-ground pools. They just don't have them. Some of the work I'm just now getting to has been scheduled for four months."

Ron Pratt, director of pools and playground operations in Sunbury, said the community pool at 249 Memorial Drive is seeing a daily attendance of 80 to 120 people, depending on the weather, which is a little less than 50 percent capacity.

"The pool is doing fairly well given the circumstances," said Pratt. "It's one of the few outlets people have in terms of outdoor recreation. People are coming and enjoying themselves. We've been in a stretch of hot days."

Pratt said season passes are not being sold and traditional sponsor days are not happening. However, he is entertaining pop-up sponsors where a person or business provides free admission for a certain number of people at an unannounced time.

Oppenheimer Playground, at 215 S. Second St., which has water features, is also open. Both the pool and playground are open 12 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Evanego recommended ways to beat the heat: stay hydrated, stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day and find air-conditioned places to be if possible.

Lynda Wolfe, of New Columbia, brings her children, Lane Wolfe, 10, Lillyanna, 8, and Cole, 6, to play in the Susquehanna River at Milton State Park at least once a week. 

"With it being so low and so dry there are quite a few places to walk out pretty far," said Wolfe. "It's been very hot. This is our pool."

It allows the kids to be out in nature and breathing in the fresh air, she said.

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