Visitors, residents experience the unbearable hotness of being in Baltimore


A bobbing mercury hit 99 degrees in Baltimore three times yesterday afternoon as hot winds from the west blew across Maryland and stagnant heat settled in for a couple of days.

The heat was severe enough to send a 36-year-old Northeast Baltimore man to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was admitted to the intensive care unit with possible heat stroke and a body temperature of 105.6 degrees.

Four others, fans watching the Orioles at Memorial Stadium, were treated for heat exhaustion at Union Memorial Hospital and sent home, and about 10 times that many were treated in the stands by city ambulance crews, the fire department said.

High temperatures around the state included 95 in Salisbury, 97 in Hagerstown and 97 in Waldorf. Easton reported 96, and the high in Frederick was 95 degrees.

No real problems were reported by utility companies, and no heat records were set yesterday -- the Baltimore high for June 29 is 105 degrees set in 1934. It was just plain hot.

"Once a high pressure system gets entrenched, it's hard to get rid of it," said Ken Shaver, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where a high of 97 degrees was reported by midafternoon.

That high pressure system of hot stagnant air, now squatting 10,000 feet above Maryland, where there has been little wind, will continue to deliver sweat and misery to the area at least through Wednesday, when expected thunderstorms might drop temperatures into the 80s.

Along with the heat, the drought that has plagued the state since March continued yesterday. Scarcely more than an inch of rain has fallen this month, almost three inches less than normal.

"There has been no good soaking rain since March," when the state averaged 5 1/2 inches, which was above normal for the month, Mr. Shaver said.

Forecasters are looking for clouds, lower temperatures and scattered showers for Independence Day Thursday, with highs in the upper 80s.

Rain on July 4 would be the only thing to dampen business at the Baltimore American Ice Co. in the 2100 block of West Franklin Street, which traditionally enjoys its busiest sales the first week of July.

"If it rained this weekend, we'd be dead around here. If it's nice out and the sun is shining, we'll do business no matter how hot it is," said Scott C. Woods, manager of the West Baltimore ice company, where a 300-pound block of ice goes for $14.

"And when it's hot like this, even the people who make their own ice like the 7-Eleven call us for delivery because they don't have enough," Mr. Woods said. "Today I have 30 delivery stops that wouldn't normally order from us and just about every snowball stand around."

One of the ice company's repeat customers yesterday was Ralph Durant, a city recreation and parks employee who was helping coordinate a track meet for kids at Forest Park High School.

"We need ice for water, ice for drinks, and ice for first aid if somebody pulls a muscle," said Mr. Durant, who bought three 45-pound bags of ice in the morning and repeated the process in the early afternoon. "I hope I don't have to come back a third time, but if I have to I will."

It will take a big cold front to get rid of the unbearable hotness, Mr. Shaver said. The one in the Northeast yesterday, which brought New England temperatures in the 60s and 70s, hasn't made it here.

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