Danielle Rickards, right, and Killian Hadsell strap themselves into a wave runner Monday before traveling up the Kennebec River from Richmond. The women had launched from Bath in search of a beach as temperatures rose into the 90s. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

WINTHROP — There is a crucial piece of information Shandra Rubchinuk wants beachgoers in Winthrop to know this summer: Her ice cream shop is a short 223 steps from the town beach on Maranacook Lake.

On Monday, with temperatures across central Maine soaring into the 90s, Rubchinuk was preparing for an influx of business as people searched for something — anything — to help them cool off.

The National Weather Service had issued heat advisories across Maine and New Hampshire for Monday because the high humidity and scorching temperatures were creating hotter conditions than the thermometer might indicate. The advisory was in effect until 8 p.m. Monday.

As a result, meteorologists and others were urging limited outdoor activities for people and animals, and recommending people check in with neighbors to make sure they are not suffering from heat illness.

Hoyt Cooley, 12, leaps off the dock Monday while swimming with Henry Sites, 13, left, at the pond at the Sites Farm in Athens. The boys were joined by Jared Ricker, 15. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel

Sarah Jamison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, said Monday the temperature and dew point, called the heat index, combine to make hot weather feel even hotter.

“We refer to it as the ‘apparent temperature,'” Jamison said. “But it’s what the temperature feels like to you body when the humidity is combined with the temperature.”

So in parts of Maine where the temperature might be in the mid-90s, the heat index will make it feel several degrees warmer, she said.

With a forecasted high of 92 degrees Monday, Jamison said early Monday it was not clear the high temperature record for the Augusta area — 93 degrees, set in 1991 — would be broken. But by the end of the day, Augusta had hit 94 degrees, breaking the record.

In response, the city of Augusta opened a cooling center Monday at three conference rooms at the Augusta Civic Center. They are expected to be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Wednesday, providing those without access to air conditioning a place to cool off.

The Augusta Parks and Recreation Department was spending time Monday filling the city’s public pools for their scheduled opening Tuesday.

In Waterville, the Alfond Municipal Pool Complex on North Street has been open since June 19, and is scheduled to remain open daily through Aug. 22.

Shandra Rubchinuk, owner of Everything Ice Cream in Winthrop, takes a break in the heat Monday to discuss the draw of ice cream on a hot day. Jessica Lowell/Kennebec Journal

In Winthrop, Rubchinuk said she had planned to spend Monday working on a fence bordering her outside eating area, but the work was slow going in the heat, especially as people pulled off Main Street to order ice cream or something cold to drink at the service window of Everything Ice Cream.

Rubchinuk opened her ice cream business about six weeks ago from her store, Everything Kids, and said Sunday has been her best day this season.

This is not her first time selling ice cream. About five years ago, she had offered soft serve ice cream at 41 Main St., through a deal she struck with Tubby’s Ice Cream in Wayne. But that didn’t work out as well as the machines needed constant attention.

“We desperately need ice cream in Winthrop,” she said.

When the opportunity arose to do it this year, she called Gifford’s and went into business almost immediately. To understand the market a little better, she and her children crisscrossed the region for a week, checking out what other ice cream sellers offered.

To be competitive in a busy market, Rubchinuk has been hunting up a dairy-free ice cream alternative for those, like her, who cannot have milk or dairy. She has managed to score some dairy-free cookies and cream ice cream, which she has stockpiled in her freezer.

When she posted on her Facebook page that she had nondairy ice cream, a family with a child who cannot have dairy products stopped by.

“She was so excited,” Rubchinuk said. “She’s 7 years old and she’s never been out for ice cream.”

Susan Leiter selects sunflowers Monday from a row at the Goranson Farm in Dresden. The flowers, sold along with organic produce, were picked as temperatures reached 94 degrees around Merrymeeting Bay. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

This hot spell is expected to last through Tuesday, Jamison said, but the drop in the humidity will make conditions a bit more tolerable.

“We’ll have quite a temperature shift, with temperatures not even reaching into the 80s,” she said. “And into the holiday weekend, we might not even have temperatures in the 70s.”

The timing of the hot temperatures is not unusual, because July is typically Maine’s hottest month. For the next six to 10 days, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting cool and dry conditions. But the outlook for the next eight to 14 days indicates above-normal temperatures, according to forecasters.

Jamison said Maine is in a drought, and that is not expected to change in the coming weeks because significant rain is not expected.

Meteorologists are watching a tropical depression that is developing off the coast of North Carolina to see how that develops and whether it might bring rain to New England.

“We are expecting an above-normal hurricane season,” she said, “so we could get something this year.”

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