By Mark Waite
The scorching heat of the past week sends most Pahrump residents scurrying for air-conditioning; it’s hard to imagine working on a crew spreading asphalt on the highway.
The workers for Aggregate Industries have been putting in four 10-hour days Monday through Thursday, knocking off work about 4 p.m. in the heat of the day. The sign at the Calvada Boulevard fountain on Highway 160 read 108 degrees by that time Wednesday — a nearby road sign comically warns of icy road conditions.
The key is hydration, workers said of enduring the heat.
“It’s hot but we like it. We’ve been doing this a long time and we don’t have any problem,” said Pedro Sian, who was sitting on the paver all day.
Workers wear big hats with a towel draped over their necks to keep the sun away.
“I have like six Gatorades, 32 ounces, about two gallons of water,” Sian said.
The crew works from 6:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Dusty Domina, a Pahrump resident, runs the shuttle buggy, a machine that picks up the asphalt off the ground and dumps it in the paver.
Asked how he deals with the heat, Domina said, “a lot of water, a lot. I drink a couple gallons a day. You have to keep hydrated. We had one guy the other day he got heat stroke and had to go to the hospital.”
The deck of the paving equipment reaches an almost unbelievable 180 degrees, he said. The asphalt comes out of the machine around 300 to 320 degrees. Domina said he’s lost a little weight on the job.
“We go as long as it takes to get the job done usually,” Domina said. “We were broke down this morning so we had a delay.”
The crews don’t get frequent breaks, he said, “you go until you run out of trucks.”
“I mean you adapt and overcome. With enough water you can survive anything,” Domina said.
But the pay isn’t bad for the sweaty work, he said, “better than anything you’ll find around here.”
Aggregate Industries was awarded an $8.1 million contract by the Nevada Department of Transportation for road work on highways 160 and 372. The company is supposed to wrap up work by the end of September.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Chris Stumpf said though the mercury topped out at 111 degrees in Pahrump Wednesday, the hottest day of the year, that was still three degrees shy of the record set in 1961.
Likewise the 110 degrees Tuesday, missed the record by two degrees. On Monday, the thermometer hit 107 degrees, the record is 110. On Sunday, Pahrump reached a high of 105 degrees, the record is 113. On Saturday, the start of the triple-digit weather, the mercury hit 103 degrees, the record is 111.
The high temperatures have been almost 10 degrees hotter than the normal high of 100 to 101 degrees for Pahrump on those days.
Stumpf said from now until the end of July is the hottest time of the year on average with normal high temperatures that reach 102 degrees.
Storm clouds are on the horizon however, Stumpf said. Storms were forming near the Nevada-Arizona border Wednesday near Kingman, Ariz. that could douse eastern Lake Mead.
Over the next couple of days they’ll threaten monsoon rain on the Pahrump area, in fact a flash flood watch is in effect for Southern Nye County from 5 a.m. today until midnight tomorrow, as thunderstorms could develop over the area producing heavy downpours. It replaces the excessive heat advisory.
“Friday looks like it’ll be the best day for storms. Clouds will keep it a little cooler,” Stumpf said.
By cool it will mean a projected high of 100 degrees Friday. The National Weather Service forecasts a high of 102 on Saturday and the upper 90s on Sunday, he said.