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It's August - deal with it

The Baltimore Sun

Area residents had many things to say about yesterday's heat, some of which cannot be printed in a newspaper. But Daire Geraghty managed to offer a polite description, even as he stretched out on a patch of withered grass in a city park.

"This is unbearable," said Geraghty, 22.

His teammates on the Washington Gaels, who had come to Southeast Baltimore's Bocek Park to play a local Gaelic football team, mopped their foreheads with T-shirts and muttered oaths about the heat.

Temperatures in the city hit a high of 98 degrees at 4 p.m. at the Maryland Science Center, but the heat index - the combined effect of heat and humidity - reached 102 degrees at one point in the afternoon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service said.

Yesterday's high at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport was also 98 degrees. The highest Baltimore-area temperature on record for yesterday was 101 degrees, measured in 1930 at an observatory at what is now BWI.

A cool front should bring a measure of relief today, with highs in the upper 80s, but temperatures are expected to climb back to the mid-90s by Tuesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Sarah Rogowski.

"It's pretty much what we expect for August," she said.

The heat hit the crowd at the Virgin Music Festival at the Pimlico Race Course particularly hard - more than 400 people were treated for heat-related complaints, 50 passed out and at least 30 were taken to Sinai Hospital, medical workers said.

The Baltimore City Health Department declared a Code Red heat alert yesterday and opened several air-conditioned cooling centers stocked with water and ice throughout the city.

Some residents took cooling into their own hands.

"We've got the pool for the baby and the water hose for everybody else," said Pandora Gambrill as she blasted 17-year-old Michael Swan with a cold spray in front of her Broadway East rowhouse.

Two-year-old Kavon Gambrill plunged into a kiddie pool set up on the sidewalk, then jumped onto his tricycle with droplets of water sparkling in his hair.

The heat was especially oppressive at M&T; Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens were scrimmaging against the Washington Redskins. Ground crews members said that temperatures on the artificial turf exceeded 140 degrees.

"You walk onto the field and you're literally drained from the beginning," Ravens tight end Todd Heap said.

At Bocek Park, another group of footballers were also suffering the effects of the heat. The Gaelic players from Washington, most of them Irish natives, prepared to play the Baltimore Gaelic Athletic Association's team in a championship game.

Gaelic football, the players explained, combines elements of soccer, rugby, basketball and American football.

The men perked up when one player mentioned that a cooler was stocked with beer.

"Irish people aren't used to this kind of heat," said James Joyce, 31, of Washington. "They don't realize that drinking alcohol dehydrates you."

"I do," said Geraghty, scratching a scab on his elbow. "I just don't care."

Sun reporters Tom Pelton, Jamison Hensley, Ed Lee and Mike Preston contributed to this report.

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