Here we go, dear readers, staggering into what could well be some of the hottest, steamiest couple of days this summer. First, the warnings:
Excessive Heat Watch: posted for Saturday in Baltimore, Southern Baltimore County, Washington, D.C., Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church. The Watch means that a prolonged period of excessive heat is expected. And:
"THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND
HIGH HUMIDITY WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A DANGEROUS SITUATION IN
WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY
IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP
ON RELATIVES AND NEIGHBORS."
Heat Advisory: The heat Advisory is in effect from noon Friday until 9 p.m. It covers all of Maryland from the Potomac to the Mason Dixon Line, and from Washington County east to Harford County. Again:
"A HEAT ADVISORY MEANS THAT A PERIOD OF HOT TEMPERATURES IS
EXPECTED. THE COMBINATION OF HOT TEMPERATURES AND HIGH HUMIDITY
WILL COMBINE TO CREATE A SITUATION IN WHICH HEAT ILLNESSES ARE
POSSIBLE. DRINK PLENTY OF FLUIDS...STAY IN AN AIR-CONDITIONED
ROOM...STAY OUT OF THE SUN...AND CHECK UP ON ELDERLY RELATIVES AND
NEIGHBORS. NEVER LEAVE CHILDREN OR PETS UNACCOMPANIED IN A PARKED
VEHICLE - EVEN WITH THE WINDOWS CRACKED."
Code Orange Air Quality Alert: The Maryland Department of the Environment has declared (another) Code Orange day. It covers The urban corridor from Baltimore to D.C., and suburban counties from Carroll to Harford, and south to St. Mary's.
" A CODE ORANGE AIR QUALITY ALERT MEANS THAT AIR POLLUTION
CONCENTRATIONS WITHIN THE REGION MAY BECOME UNHEALTHY FOR
SENSITIVE GROUPS. SENSITIVE GROUPS INCLUDE CHILDREN...PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM
ASTHMA... HEART DISEASE OR OTHER LUNG DISEASES...AND THE ELDERLY.
THE EFFECTS OF AIR POLLUTION CAN BE MINIMIZED BY AVOIDING
STRENUOUS ACTIVITY OR EXERCISE OUTDOORS."
How bad does this weather stink, folks?
Just look at this forecast for downtown Baltimore: A high today of 97 degrees (it's already 93 at 11 a.m.), with humidity driving the heat index number to 101 degrees. (It's harder to evaporate sweat when the humidity is high, and so it's harder for your body to cool itself. Hence, the effect of the heat on your body is the same as if it were 101 degrees.)
Saturday's forecast calls for a high of 99 degrees at BWI-Marshall, and 100 degrees downtown, with a heat index as high as 107 degrees in the city and 105 at the airport. The record high for the date is only 97 degrees, last reached back in 1987. So it seems we're headed for a new record high for the date at BWI.
And, since Sterling's forecasts frequently undershoot the actual temperatures, we may well go higher than 99. Keep this in mind: The all-time record high temperature for Baltimore is 107 degrees. Just sayin' ...
The long-range forecast looks better only by comparison. Sterling is calling for highs in the low- to mid-90s to continue through at least next Thursday. If so, that would bring us to 15 straight days in the 90s at BWI (we stand today at 9), and 43 days so far this year at 90 or above (today makes it 37). The average for a year in Baltimore is 29.4 days.
(SUN PHOTO: Kenneth K. Lam, 2008)