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Maryland weather: Severe storms down trees as heat index surges to triple digits

Charles Street at Conway Street has water rushing off the sidewalk and down the street during the storm.

Weather experts are calling for more extreme heat Thursday, but cloud coverage and a potential for scattered showers and thunderstorms may keep the temperatures slightly below Wednesday’s swelter.

The heat index surged to 100 degrees for a second consecutive day in and around Baltimore on Wednesday, and was forecast to go even higher in the coming days as a potentially deadly heat wave roils two-thirds of the United States.

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The National Weather Service has extended its Excessive Heat Watch through Sunday evening, including during nighttime hours.

The heat and moisture from the remnants of Hurricane Barry fueled severe storms Wednesday that knocked down trees and knocked out power for thousands of residents. The National Weather Service reported a 78-foot-tall tree fell in Long Green, and widespread downed trees and power lines were reported across Harford County.

In the Owings Mills area, parts of the roof and siding of an apartment building were blown off on Garrison View Road, the weather service said. Eight roads in Baltimore County remained closed Thursday morning because of storm damage, county spokesman T.J. Smith said.

Nearly 21,000 Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. customers were without power as of 10 p.m. The utility said it has also restored about 21,000 outages.

The city’s Department of Public Works wrote on Twitter that stormwater breached the CSX tunnel near the sinkhole on Howard Street.

“We will need to assess and restore any damage at the Howard Street hole caused by the severe rainstorm tonight,” the department wrote.

Temperatures peaked at 98 degrees degrees Wednesday at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, with high levels of humidity making it feel as hot as 105 degrees. At the Inner Harbor, it got as hot as 99 degrees and felt like 109.

Temperatures reached 95 degrees Tuesday at BWI, the region’s point of record, matching what was then the highest reading there for the year to date.

Highs are forecast in the lower 90s on Thursday, though the heat index is still forecast to rise above 100 degrees in the afternoon. Friday, temperatures are forecast to surge into the upper 90s again, with slightly lower but still elevated levels of humidity.

On Saturday, they could reach 100 degrees in Baltimore for the first time in three years, and it’s expected to feel as hot as 110 degrees. Similar heat is forecast Sunday.

Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa issued a “Code Red” advisory through Sunday, warning residents that excessive heat is “the leading weather-related killer in the United States.” State data released Wednesday shows heat deaths in Maryland climbed even as the latest stretch of scorching weather was moving in.

Two people died of heat-related illnesses in the week ending Monday, according to the state Department of Health: a man age 18-44 in Prince George’s County and a woman 45-64 in Worcester County. That brings the state’s toll of deaths tied to hot weather this summer to four.

Officials do not provide further details on heat deaths, citing privacy concerns, but say victims are often older or suffering from chronic health conditions that make it harder for them to tolerate extreme weather.

“Extreme heat is particularly dangerous to young children, older adults, and those with chronic medical conditions," Dzirasa said in a statement. "I encourage all residents to take the necessary steps to protect themselves as well as their families, neighbors, and pets.”

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An experimental weather service forecast projects that scores of high temperature records could be broken Thursday, Friday and Saturday across the country, from Texas and Oklahoma to Maine and Florida, according to the Associated Press.

Record-breaking heat is possible but not likely in Baltimore. Record highs for July 18, 19 and 20 in Baltimore are 104, 103 and 102 degrees, respectively.

Officials encourage residents to drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and reduce outdoor activities, especially during the hottest part of the day, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

They also recommend checking on older relatives and neighbors and watching out for signs of heat-related illnesses, including confusion, nausea, cool and clammy or dry and flushed skin, and rapid or slowed heartbeat.

The city will extend public pool hours over that period, and also open cooling centers. Centers will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. over the weekend at:

  • Northern Community Action Partnership Center, 5225 York Road;
  • Southern Community Action Partnership Center, 606 Cherry Hill Road (closed Sunday);
  • Northwest Community Action Partnership Center, 3939 Reisterstown Road;
  • Southeast Community Action Partnership Center, 3411 Bank St.; and,
  • Eastern Community Action Partnership Center, 1731 E. Chase St.

Other locations serving as cooling centers from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday:

  • Waxter Center for Senior Citizens, 1000 Cathedral St.;
  • Oliver Senior Center, 1700 Gay St.;
  • Sandtown-Winchester Senior Center, 1601 N. Baker St.;
  • Hatton Senior Center, 2825 Fait Ave.;
  • John Booth/Hooper Senior Center, 2601 E. Baltimore St.;
  • Zeta Center, 4501 Reisterstown Road; and,
  • Harford Center, 4920 Harford Road.

Baltimore Sun reporter Lillian Reed contributed to this article.

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