Summer started with a bang in Harford County, with heat indexes expected to rise to 105 degrees Wednesday through Thursday.
From Bel Air to Havre de Grace, thermometers on businesses and homes climbed into the 105-degree range both days.
People nevertheless braved the heat and humidity to get errands done, or even just take a walk down the street.
On Main Street in Bel Air, plenty of workers and visitors were out and about in the midday sun Thursday.
Mark Meehan said he was only outside for a moment because he had walked to 7-Eleven to buy a soda.
"I run marathons, but when I went running yesterday I could barely breathe," he said. "I went running this morning instead and it was okay. But I'm not leaving the office today. It's hot."
"Man in the heat," Bill Johnson quipped when told by a reporter that The Aegis was soliciting "man in the street" opinions.
Johnson, who was in Bel Air for court, observed that the heat has been steadily increasing, much to his dismay.
"So last week it's 60 degrees, and I'm walking to work, no problem," Johnson said. "Then I find myself a week later, 40 degrees hotter, finding myself hot and tired. The walk home is excruciating. And I work in a meat shop, so I'm stepping out of 50 degrees into 100 degrees."
"It's like a punch from [Mike] Tyson," he said.
Not everyone was distressed by the high temperatures.
Carol Mallon, a Mary Kay representative, said the summer season is right up her alley.
"I love the heat; I don't like the snow," Mallon said, though admitting: "But, I've been air-conditioning this out."
Anne Marie Azzaro had advice for her fellow residents.
"Just drink lots of fluid," she said. "We're trying to do indoor activities. I'm not looking forward to the rest of the summer."
Denise and Sarah Emmons were also trying to avoid the weather.
"We've been staying in," Denise Emmons said, explaining they "only came out here because I have to pick up license plates and we thought we'd look around the shops."
"We know it's going to be over by the end of the week so we can take a couple of days," she pointed out.
Local government officials hoped to prevent a rise in heat-related illnesses or even deaths.
Harford County's departments of community services and parks and recreation opened several cooling centers Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Residents could visit the Havre de Grace Activity Center at 351 Lewis Lane; the McFaul Activity Center, at 525 West MacPhail Road in Bel Air; and the Veronica "Roni" Chenowith Activity Center, at 1707 Fallston Road in Fallston.
County Executive David Craig encouraged residents, especially the elderly, young children and those with respiratory health issues, to take shelter from the heat.
The county health department noted that the state issued a heat emergency plan and is warning residents to be cautious in excessive heat.
"Prolonged heat exposure can result in recreational as well as occupational illnesses and injuries. Persons who work or recreate outside in direct exposure to the sun, or indoors in excessive heat for any extended period of time must be particularly mindful of the risks and be exceptionally careful," health officer Susan Kelly said in an advisory from the department.
The health department warned that immediate medical attention should be sought for anyone whose body temperature is above 104 degrees and who has symptoms of confusion, combativeness, strong rapid pulse, lack of sweating, dry flushed skin, faintness, staggering or delirium or coma, especially with an older adult.
More information is available at http://dhmh.maryland.gov/extremeheat or from the Harford County Health Department website at http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com or by calling 410-612-1781.
The National Weather Service said there could be a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after midnight Thursday. The 100-degree mark for temperatures was eclipsed by midafternoon
Friday temperatures might be headed down a little. The NWS high is forecast near 91.
Intern Mariel Stratford contributed to this article.