Revisiting the heyday of department stores and five-and-dimes

Heat wave breaks tonight

With any luck at all, tonight will see the end of this nasty late-spring heat wave. Look for increasing clouds as the day wears on, and all this hot, humid, ozone-laced soup begins to clash with an approaching cool front from the west.

This morning's discussion from Sterling says it all. "When a period of heat like this one we've been experiencing breaks ... there's usually a price to pay in the form of severe thunderstorms. This afternoon and evening may follow that idea."

Forecasters are expecting scattered showers and thunderstorms by late this afternoon, extending into the early evening. Some storms could be severe, with large hail, and damaging winds for those unlucky enough to be under them.

For the next two days, forecasters say we can expect "a couple of really nice days ... with low humidity." Baltimore traffic cop Mike Nichols, above, may be grateful for a break in the weather.

But it will stay hot until the storms blast through, with a forecast high of 98 degrees at BWI. The NWS missed its bet on yesterday's high The forecast pushed it to 99 or even 100 degrees, but the high mark at the airport was "only" 94 degrees. For all our misery, no records broken here.

But it was a good deal hotter in a few spots. Here's a map of unofficial readings from across the region. (Anybody else having problems loading the NWS/Sterling web pages? They say they're not aware of any problems. I'd bet it's just high volume swamping their servers.)

At first glance that 108-degree reading up in Pennsylvania looks bogus. It could be. But we reached 100 degrees here at The Sun's weather station at Calvert & Centre streets.

Other amateur stations also boiled up over the century mark. Here's one in Odenton that reached 104 degrees just after 3 p.m.

Once the front and the storms move through, we can look forward to daytime highs in the mid-80s through the weekend, and overnight lows in the 60s. Open those windows! Kill the AC! There could be some more showers Saturday as another cool front drifts past. Then, next week, the forecast promises "dry and refreshingly cooler (weather) under the influence of a deep upper low over eastern Canada."

For now, heat advisories remain in effect until 8 p.m. today, with high temps between 95 and 100 degrees. .

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