By Baltimore Business Journal

Even ice cream isnâ¿¿t enticing enough to lure people out into the 100-degree weather.

The July 4th holiday went out with a whimper at many area establishments as city residents took the advice of health officials and stayed indoors, with ice cream and frozen yogurt shops also feeling the heat waveâ¿¿s burn. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, temperatures had exceeded 100 degrees in downtown Baltimore, and forecasts show the temperature to rise through Wednesday.

⿿As hot as it was, we would have expected a ton of people,⿝ Jessica Jensen, owner of Mr. Yogato frozen yogurt shop in Fells Point, said of business Monday. ⿿But it definitely seemed dead most of the day."

Thatâ¿¿s despite Monday being an off-day for most workers due to the tourist-heavy July 4 holiday.

Jensenâ¿¿s observations werenâ¿¿t an anomaly. Across the street at Pitango Gelato, crowds werenâ¿¿t as robust as expected, employees said.

⿿If the temperature reaches over 96-97, things slow down,⿝ said Chris Nova of Pitango. ⿿I think the heat keeps people inside.⿝

The heatâ¿¿s stalling effect is certainly true for the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, when attendance sometimes drops by over 50 percent, said zoo spokeswoman Jane Ballentine. On a typical summer day the zoo sees 2,000 to 3,000 visitors, she said, but this past Monday only 681 people braved the 99-degree temperature.

Though many of the zooâ¿¿s animals are native to warmer temperatures, others, like the polar bears, stay cool by spending most of their time in the pool and digging into trash can-sized feeding bins filled with frozen treats like apples and carrots. Sprinklers are put out for the chimps.

⿿The species this weather is toughest on are the humans,⿝ Ballentine said.

Meanwhile, many air conditioning installers and service technicians reached Tuesday said they were too busy with phone calls to comment for this story.

In heat waves, compressor units can malfunction because of the energy demand on them. That was the main reason why AJR Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Inc. answered about 200 phone calls on Monday, President Michael Giangrandi said. They are prioritizing homes by at-risk residents, such as the elderly, and asking customers with working air conditioning to delay installation of new units if possible.

Sales of bottled water at Eddies in Mount Vernon have spiked by 25 percent, store manager Charles Arito estimates. But as the heat increases, the storeâ¿¿s sales of milk and red meat have dropped, he said.

The weather wasnâ¿¿t bad news for everyone, especially those able to take advantage of the water. Though the Downtown Sailing Center lost a handful of participants to the heat in their Monday evening class, hot temperatures actually make for better sailing winds, said Director Kristen Berry.

As the hot air over the city rises, it leaves a void that is filled by the cool air over the water, creating a sea breeze, he said.

Copyright 2010 American City Business Journals

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